Should English be used in an aesthetically appealing way or is bald grammar and jangling words like ‘virtuosic’ be enough? Is clarity in language an absolute or does it depend on the target reader. These questions all arose from a discussion on Facebook yesterday, and while no consensus was reached, it finished with me agreeing with Pete Jenkins when he wrote that ‘Language should flow, and be beautiful – like dance’.
In the evening while shooting the dress rehearsal of enfant I was reminded that life’s not that simple. Use of beauty is not the only way to get a message across, and while individual components of works of dance or words may indeed be upsetting, they can create a totality that’s gripping and intense.
You’d think that a choreography that involved janglingly arhythmic movements and the hauling around of children as if they were abstract concepts and not people would repel, but it didn’t. You’d think that if, for much of the performance, the children were treated merely as doll-shaped toys would disgust or dismay, but instead it held the eye. You’d think that using children in an hour-long exquisite pass-the-parcel would be disturbing, but it wasn’t.
Absence of music segued into strange sighs, hoots and squeals from the performers which in turn became a sweet hymn-like sussuration. Random repetitions and strange dance formations coalesced into patterns that quickly dispersed, leaving the impression of just-missed-meaning. A bag piper lead them all into twisted circles until it became unclear as to who was leading who.
Despite the discord, the work as a whole had a pleasing symmetry in ways I’ll not reveal as they’d spoilers. You should see Boris Charmatz’s new work at Sadler’s Wells (which is new to the UK as opposed to being newly choreographed). It’s on today (29th) and tomorrow (30th). Like it or hate it, it’ll grip your attention, challenge your sense of pattern and propriety. It might even make you think.