Simone Orlando & Jocelyn Morlock's Luft - A Flutter Of OrigamiThursday, March 03, 2011
If feathers did not evolve first for flight, what was their purpose? Perhaps for insulation or, as a recent research suggests, to get the attention of the opposite sex.
The Curious History of Feathers, National Geographic, February 2011
Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.
After a satisfying performance of Stravinsky’s’ Firebird, orchestrated for 16 (including a bass clarinet) instruments of the Turning Point Ensemble by Michael Bushnell in Tuesday’s dress rehearsal, I awaited for my first glimpse of Simone Orlando’s new ballet (a modern ballet) Luft. In German, luft serves as a prefix for all things air and flight. By the end of the evening luft also had an intimate connection with feathers, black ones and white ones.
As I watched 15 of the musicians (alas the bass clarinettist had no part!) climb up to Alan Storey’s set (which I will not reveal what it looks like as that should be a surprise) they began to tune the instruments. There was something strange as the tuning had lots of trumpet (Tom Shorthouse) and it all sounded familiar. A lot of it came from the fourth movement of Firebird. There are five dancers in this ballet (the two principal ones are Alison Denham and Josh Beamish). The other three, Cai Glover, Matjash Mrozewski and Heather Dotto appeared, one at a time to stretch. I first suspected this was part of the dress rehearsal. But with the Firebirdish sounds coming from the tuning up and the fact that the stretching dancers were lit as they elegantly stretched I caught on!
Anybody who has ever met the very serious Luft choreographer Simone Orlando and the not-so-serious composer of the ballet, Jocelyn Morlock (and I have!) will instantly know that these two women who collaborated, even in the telling of the story, have a very good sense of humor!
In the beginning of the ballet I watched Josh Beamish (he pretty well dances without rest for close to 40 minutes!) flutter and vibrate his hands and arms. I had seen that very move in Stravinsky’s Firebird during a performance of the National Ballet of Canada some years ago. Like Morlock’s writing the trumpet part for Luft, Orlando had found an element of Firebird to bring into her completely original ballet.
I will not reveal here why Luft to me immediately brought to mind the expression fluttering origami. I will leave that as a surprise and a pleasant one it shall be for those lucky enough to see Luft in what seems to be sold out performances until Saturday.
The ballet is a tour-de-force performance for one dancer, Josh Beamish but I cannot leave out the performance of the three other dancers and also of Alison Denham, whose beautifully designed costume (she wore two different ones, by designer Linda Chow) in their pinkness provided almost the only colour on stage. Denham (those legs!) in whichever way you interpret the story, is a wonder to behold in her movement as she troubles, tests, inspires and challenges the everyman that Josh Beamish perhaps represents.
And of course only a few might suspect and a few might wonder why it was that when I left the evening’s performance I found a little white feather, with that one black filament, on the floor of the Cultch lounge. The answer to the possible question is that the Cultch stage has never been a deep one and no renovation can add space that is not there. When dancers exit, stage left or right, to return stage right or stage left, they must do so through that lounge. A bystander sitting there with a drink might just get a different take on Luft.