The twists and turns of danced Bacon paintings

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Reviewed on 07/14/2011 | No Reviews

My Concierge Told Me

Wayne McGregor's

He is one of the big ones, no doubt. The British choreographer Wayne McGregor “is the closest thing to a rock star that ballet can currently claim“, the New York Times recently wrote.

Photo: © Anne Deniau

At Bastille Opera, McGregor is showing a piece of mind-blowing beauty: “L’Anatomie de la Sensation” – a tribute to the painter Francis Bacon. And there is only one last chance to see it: tomorrow night, Friday, is the last performance of “L’anatomie de la sensation”. So hurry, there are still tickets available.

The beauty of body in movement. - Photo: © Anne Deniau

Why is this a must see? Not only because of the fact that this is McGregor’s first evening-length creation for a ballet company. There are other reasons. First of all: the beauty of a body in movement. Second the odd but comprehensive body language, the strange vocabulary of McGregor.

And, last but not least the performance of the eleven soloists. Among those is Marie-Agnès Gillot, who has a tailor-made solo and the whole stage to herself to give a final proof of her ethereal grace – if ever there was one needed.

Grace and despair

But what, you might ask, have the twists and turns, the body in its grace and despair to do with the British painter Francis Bacon? You can read the nine movements as paintings: John Pawson signs the set and he plays with two huge wings often evoking the triptych forms of Bacon’s paintings.

Looking for tension

Then there is the music: “Blood on the pavement”, Mark-Anthony Turnages nine-part composition from 1994 inspired by Bacon’s artworks and performed, here, by the Ensemble Intercontemporain. There is a lot of Gershwin, Bernstein and Miles Davis in it, but also clear Stravinsky. Does this make it dance music ? Not exactly. But McGregor is not looking for the absolute match, he’s looking for the tension, the dialogue, the inner conflict and a greater disunity, which brings him ever closer to the paintings of Bacon.

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