By Martha Elias. Copenhagen, 17 June 2019.
5 out of 5 〽️
“What we want from modern dance is courage and audacity.” Twyla Tharp
The feminine as a power of class construction and self-destruction. How far will a young upper-class woman go to engage in the game of seduction, or is raw passion a kind of art in its own right?
Photo: Søren Meisner
In Copenhagen Opera House magic meets the eye when physicality as an artistic expression is exalted by the voices of dancing bodies. Sweating, punishing, violent moves, and yet the audience stands before intrinsically dignified, dedicated, sublime modern ballet as only Dansk Danseteater can deliver. A truly eminent performance.
The narrative of ‘About Miss Julie’ renders a compelling take on ever so recurring themes as social clashes, consuming passion and violence. An absolute masterpiece based on August Strindberg’s play from 1888 delivered razor-sharply by the magnificent dancers and a renowned production team.
It is presented on the Opera House’s black box stage, Takkelloftet. The confined and austere stage setting underlines symbols – such as position and entitlement shown via a narrow wooden beam on the floor – and elevates the performers’ characterisation. In this extreme minimalistic setting a tale is revealed through naturalism embodied by the roaring sounds of movements presented as voices. And yes, we heard every syllable of the voices spoken through the dance motions varying between the classical and the very modern, with gazes, sharp footsteps, physical battle, falls, and a threesome violent play of hands exemplifying the power struggle, the pain, the eclectic contrast between the servile and the aristocratic classes. But also the imminent conflict between the masculine vs. the feminine, the entitled vs. the oppressed, passion’s climax vs. brutality’s anti-climax. All of which are elements that only can lead to the creation of a dystopic scenario.
In this extreme minimalistic setting a tale is revealed through naturalism embodied by the roaring sounds of movements presented as voices.
It all takes place on a midsommernight’s evening, as a phantasy becomes a ghastly nightmare. In her loneliness, Miss Julie, Jessica Lyall, a well-bred lady wants to play with her servants, and in the course of the evening she is the one outplayed, as her reputation is tarnished, her mind is at loss, as she immerses in a dangerous dance of lust and desire, where she seemingly has the upper-hand to begin with. She will stop at nothing to satisfy her impulse to exert her will upon her father’s valet Jean, Stefanos Bizas, and upon his fiancé, the just as observing as frustrated servant Christine, Merete Hersvik. A fight between life and death escalates, where the survival of the fittest results in the death of Miss Julie by her own hand. This is the only possible way reckons Miss Julie, as she chooses her destiny strongly incited by Jean’s violence upon her womanhood and even more so upon her social status.
Photo: Søren Meisner
It seems like the talented choreographer, American Stephen Shropshire, has his mind set on a challenge he sat out to solve as a team with the three stage performers, who all join efforts to convey such a mesmerising, intense, sublime art piece. With steaming body heat, tears and high-pitched energy their endeavours meet the outside world.
Audacity, courage and dedication from a dance ensemble that brings such profound inspiration to the world.
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Venligst, Martha Elias
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Kind regards, Martha Elias