A lot, as it happens. The current iteration of Ivan Putrov’s Men in Motion, is too long and too incoherent ever to take flight.
True, the dancers are beautiful, perfect body after perfect body, skilled technicians all. True, there are sublime moments when you’re transported by the sheer power of dance flawlessly performed.
One such is the pas de deux from Proust ou Les Intermittences du Coeur, choreographed by Roland Petit and danced here by Staatsballett Berlin Principal Marian Walter and Alessandro Staiano, a soloist at Teatro San Carlo, Naples. To Gabriel Fauré’s wistful score, the two men, clad in flesh coloured body stockings, enact a duet of longing and desire, their supremely elegant lines fusing into an ever closer partnership.
Equally entrancing is choreographer Russell Maliphant’s Afterlight (Part One) with which the truly gifted Daniel Proietto (currently with the Norwegian National Ballet) brings the first half of the programme to a close. Created by Maliphant as an abstract homage to the great Nijinsky, Afterlight is a slow, hypnotic dance where Proietto, in a read blouson and soft white beret, gyrates, bends, moves and leaps with the grace and stealth of a big cat.
How sad then, that the first sight of Proietto that Men in Motion gives its audience is the staggeringly misguided spoken number with which the programme starts. Here Proietto in a Weimar style uniform where the armband’s emblem is a hashtag, comes on while the audience are taking their seats and launches into an incoherent rant that embraces all the current ‘good causes' and has a dig at Messrs Putin and Trump, before segueing into the famous speech from Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. All this for a seemingly interminable 20 minutes.
What were they thinking? On opening night this piece named The Mockracy, with Concept/Direction/Costume by Proietto himself, caused an ugly reaction from the audience, with bouts of slow clapping and cries of 'Go Away!'
We can only hope Putrov makes the decision to pull it for the second night. At almost three hours it’s a long evening anyway…
Altogether there are 14 pieces in the programme, and at times the process of curtain up; dancer comes on; dances for five minutes; curtain down; curtain up, etc… feels ponderous and profoundly tedious.
Short self-contained pieces (rather than extracts from full ballets) work best in this kind of programme. So Ludovico Ondiviela’s brand new take on the Artificial Intelligence, System/A.I., works beautifully as a short duet for the human, Ivan Putrov, and his robot-with-a-mind-of-his-own, the seriously impressive Royal Ballet First Soloist, Matthew Ball.
Equally appropriate is Le Spectre de La Rose, which welcomes the only female dancer of the evening, the gorgeous Royal Ballet Principal Francesca Hayward, as the young woman who dreams that the spirit of a rose (Ivan Putrov in an honourable, if unremarkable interpretation) materialises and dances with her.
And so to Irek Muhamedov. The great Russian was one of the best dance actors of his generation; and here he was able to create a unique blend of comedy and pathos in choreographer Arthur Pita’s tailor-made piece about an old, semi-derelict former dancer, taking slugs from his faithful vodka bottle, while trying to re-enact one of the dances of his glorious youth with the help of a tambourine.
Mukhamedov, who got a round of applause even before he started performing, brought this unsettling evening to a close; and one left the Coliseum simultaneously marvelling at the sheer artistry of the men on display and ruing the fact that surely they deserved so much better…
|What||Men in Motion Review|
|Where||London Coliseum, WC2N 4ES | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Charing Cross (underground)|
22 Nov 17 – 23 Nov 17, 19:30 Dur.: 3 hours approx with one interval
|Price||£20-£95 (+booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book via the Coliseum website|