How can I best describe my feelings as I entered the Opera Garnier? It was a medley of overwhelming impressions: amazement, admiration for its architectural beauty, the feeling of being connected to centuries of history, I felt the intensity of the moment, the privilege of stepping into the pinnacle of the art form.
I went to see Ballet performances by Cunningham and Forsythe, The forerunners of American Contemporary Ballet. The first number Walkaround Time by Cunningham, was, least to say, a bit disconcerting. The decor was stunning, and it felt like you were in an art gallery, looking at an abstract painting. There was no music. I could only think of when music would start. The question then arises: Does ballet necessitates music? Ballets without music seem incomplete, and it is unsettling. We have been taught to watch dance with simple guidelines: performers dancing, music, costumes and decor. Questioning these rules puts us into disarray. The dancers were doing some movements that hardly resembled dance, at some point they were getting undressed and dressed. After ten minutes of silence, I finally heard some noises (in the program they called it music!), the sound of walking on gravel, roaring cars, chatters. I tried hard to remain open to new ideas, but I could not help but think of visitors at a contemporary art exhibit that often comments: " I could do it myself." That comment drives me insane, and the irony is that I felt like saying it! Because I am trying hard not to fall into intellectual laziness, I respect Cunningham's new take on choreography (although it is not really new since this ballet was created in 1969). I watched the dancers' movements and gestures, more as signs with an aesthetic point of view like I was looking at an art piece. Needless to say, I need to read about his work and understand his objective and ideas.
The next two numbers by Forsythe, Trio and Herman Schmerman (with music!), were an absolute enchantment, perfection in every way. Beauty, creativity, and performers who were amazing.
It's a gift to the soul!