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Cloud Gate 2: Beckoning, London, November 2016

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Just as well they picked this one of the three for the photographers. The opening item was almost in darkness. A struggle to make out the dancers at all...


i'm seeing this tonight - maybe I should take night vision goggles rather than my usual binoculars!

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Yet another example of contemporary choreographers and designers thinking that for some reason the audience doesn't want to see their work, or those dancing in it.  Why bother making a piece if no-one can see it, or if you have to strain your eyes so much that it negates any pleasure you might get from the performance?

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Sat in an unusually convivial row tonight. I concurred with my neighbours that the second piece, The Wall, was the most consistently enjoyable.  Wicked Fish  got a somewhat muted reception, not helped by the lighting - the concept of dancers dipping in and out of a bar of light needed a brighter bar of light!  The third piece, Beckoning, had some fine passages for pairs of dancers but needed a good 10 minutes editing out, mostly from the solos and some group sections, which felt respectively indulgent and confused.  In an interview some time ago the choreographer of the latter two pieces, Cheng Tsung Lung, said that the relation of boxing to kung fu parallels that of ballet to his Chinese dance, in that the Western traditions are built around constant tension whereas the Chinese are around relaxation.  There were passages that did rather look like extended demonstrations of the 'drunken kung fu' martial arts style.  Tai chi and kung fu are built around big circular movements, and this was also very much in evidence as forming the core of his choreography, and for a Western audience that gives a degree of underlying homogeneity both within the dance and looking out to 'choreographed' martial arts films that risks a feeling of over-familiarity.  An interesting and mostly enjoyable experience however - I wish now I'd booked to see the senior Cloud Gate company.  It will be interesting to see the National Ballet of China next week by way of contrast.

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