Black and White
If there’s only one treat you shouldn’t deny yourself of this Lent, then It has to be this Ballet.
It is an awkward ecliptic mix of the contemporary and classical and is by no means perfect. But its imperfections are worth bearing for its sublimely perfect Lenten message. It is a beautiful accompaniment for anyone struggling and dying isolated in the desert, desperate for Mercy, even more desperate to be resurrected, by dying to self of all that is inauthentic and untrue. And so to be purely reborn, raised up, an intimate witness to Truth and her eternal infinite Love.
If a temples main aim is to encourage transcendence and unity of the soul and the spirit, then this ballets main aim is to encourage transcendence and unity of body and soul…..and it does. “Only when body and soul are united (say Benedict XVI) can eros be healed and be restored to its true grandeur”
This five-part programme begins with Resolution inspired from Mahler’s gloriously melancholy music, based on 5 poems written by the german poet Friedrich Ruckert.
“I am lost to the world/with which I used to waste so much time,/It has heard nothing from me for so long/that it may very well believe that I am dead!/It is of no consequence to me/Whether it thinks me dead;/I cannot deny it,/for I really am dead to the world./I am dead to the world’s tumult,/And I rest in a quiet realm!/I live alone in my heaven,/In my love and in my song!”
“Ruckert’s poems show a quiet acquiescence to fate and to a peaceful world of solace.” But only through accepting and bearing the unbearable. The grief of loosing his children to illness. Wayne Eagling the choreographer says “ The music echoes the feeling of despair. We all face the same eventual destiny.”
Regardless of the music’s meaning, the ballet becomes an interpretation of ones own Lenten journey into the longest night. The furthest into, and the furthest away from, the beginning and end of our own personal desert.
Every performance, every movement was literally breath-taking. Intimate, compelling, and all-encompassing. For me it was the absolute perfection of an individual independent being, surrendering in body mind and spirit. This is breath to breath, skin to skin, soul to soul merging and becoming one, in a perfect sacred union with another. The death of self. The end result were as if several loose strands of a cobweb had blown free of their moorings and floated and billowed in the most delicate waves of perfectly synchronised harmony. It were as if the Holy Spirit itself were the invisible breeze, the only spirit that can unite beloved to beloved. This was Beauty blessed. From two deaths, one whole is born. By the end, just like gossamer wings glimpsed only in the flicker of a lit shadow, one briefly senses the deepest longings and truths of ones own soul, but by the time these feelings surface, one wonders if it is all just an impossible figment of the imagination, a figment never ever to be realized.
Maybe this is our physical death before our spiritual resurrection. How infinitely desolate.
The Black Swan performance then unnecessarily and frustratingly interrupts. It sits uncomfortably out-of-context, as if only in response to the latest blockbuster. Maybe this was Black and White’s lowest point, although the dancers were still faultless.
Before we get back on to the Lenten track with the powerful Men y Men, to the music of Rachmaninoff piano preludes. This piece for me was Christ Crucified. A brotherhood. All male, strong naked Torso’s and collective enduring strength, support, encouragement, resistance, betrayal and defeat. The unjust. The overpowering of the vulnerable. Perfect physical beauty exposed crushed and destroyed. All that haunts about Christ final journey, was visible in this piece. His falling, His persecution, His struggle, His perseverance, His spiritual strength, His humility. The apostolic support and denial. The acceptance. His eventual physical weakness. His cry for Mercy again and again. And ultimately His Grace bestowed.
We then experience the unfolding premier of Vue de l’autre, an expression of the birth of hope, through an exploration of human relationships. The joy of sharing, the fickle frill of youth exploring each other. The complex dynamics of experiencing love, before love before love. The jealousies, the distractions, the confusion, the changing directions. The imperfections, the search, the desire for the perfect union, however unattainable. Apart from the distraction of a naff red rose, this ballet was fluid, like sacred oil being spilled from its vial, before the anointing of souls in marriage. One cant help but feel that not all pairings were bound for eternity. The insurmountable barriers. The isolation.
Then by pure Grace of God, by faith alone, the attainable.
Finally the beautiful faultless neo classical Suite en Blanc described in the programme as “one of Lifar’s rare plotless ballets, designed to display the elegance and virtuosity of its dancers” for me was every thing a perfect ending should be. It may have been plotless, but it invoked rapturous and sensual pleasures, such as effervescent bubbles in champagne. Virgin feathers blowing in a breeze. The master strokes of a paint brush. The creative, creating. The ultimate climax to the ecstasy of being. Beloved’s intimately and sublimely lost in their loving, in perfect holy communion with each other, together with Him, rapturously spilling over into the creation of new life. The Holy Trinity. God’s faithful triumph over human failure. The Resurrection. Love.
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This interview does not do the Black and White’s Men y Men justice. This powerful part of the programme has two memorable opposing forces, a feeling of being driven by a tidal like current at the fate of the elements. And then a more powerful ambiguous composition of resistance against the same force that one is both reliant upon for survival and yet will lead to our end. A deeply asexual, but intimate and powerful ballet with male dancers, of which one is thrust in to poses of Christ’s Crucifixion. (None the less, the thought process behind the choreography is important to the composition of this all male part of the programme)