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Bamboo Dream – The Cloudgate Dance Theatre of Taiwan
A film danced to the music of Arvo PÄRT, choreographed by Lin Hwai-Min
Fratres – for piano and violin – Gidon Kremer (violin) and Keith Jarrett (piano)
Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten – Staatsorchester Stuttgart conducted by Dennis Russel Davies
Fratres – for 12 cellos – The 12 cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Tabula Rasa – Gidon Kremer (violin), Tatjana Grindenko (violin) and Alfred Schnittke (prepared piano), with the Lithuanian Chamber Music Orchestra conducted by Saulus Sondeckis.
Darfe ich – Gidon Kremer (violin) and Kremerata Baltica.
Flute – Huang Sheng-Kai
Directed by Ross MacGibbon. (DVD).
ARTHAUS MUSIK 100 378 [63 minutes plus 25 minutes extras]

This ballet film is an example of how good is the DVD medium for this kind of art. My only regret is that at present I do not own a plasma screen as I am sure that this disc will look absolutely superb on it. Still it is pretty impressive on a conventional T.V.

The film is split into 8 individual scenes, 6 of them danced to pre-recorded music, all composed by Arvo Pärt, and any fan of this composer is likely to have one or more of these tracks in his or her collection. The remaining two sections (start and finish) are flute solos by Huang Sheng-Kai.

Each of the dances is a miraculous gentle movement in time to the Part scores and I found these scenes very moving. There is only one exception to this and this is Scene 6, where the choreography, obviously to insert some variety into the proceedings has the dancers whirling around at a fast tempo when the music is still and very slow moving – I thought that this was a slight miscalculation, not everyone, I am sure will feel the same way.

The concept behind the ballet is based upon the almost mystical influence of bamboo on the Chinese psyche. The bamboo forest is a magical place, peopled by female spirits who are there to comfort and support the soul of the lost person.

This mystical effect is enhanced by the presence of the flute solos which start and end the ballet – they have an eerie effect which is enhanced once the ballet proper gets under way. According to the choreographer, Lin Hwai-Win, he has used the stories about the Bamboo forest throughout the seasons to produce a series of scenes that attempt to picture atmosphere rather than a series of actions which need to be choreographed.

The dancers are superb. The extra programme which is on the DVD shows them meditating before the performance and such is the commitment of the dancers, that it is often difficult to tell the principals and corps de ballet apart. One gets the impression that any of the dancers, (principals or otherwise) would each be able to dance any of the parts. The company thus appears to be superbly integrated.

This is not a traditional ballet, as you might be able to imagine, and if you approach it with an open mind, I am convinced that you will be enchanted.

The sets are all very simple, and back and front lighting is used to very impressive effect. The Director of the proceedings, Ross MacGibbon, was concerned about the techniques to be used in filming this ballet in allowing the grace and beauty to be able to be displayed. He has done this by placing the cameras in various placed around the stage so that different angles on the performers can be shown.

I do urge you to see this production – it is visually stunning, danced superbly by all, and the music is wonderful. This is a fusion of eastern and western dance techniques, and I haven’t seen better.

John Phillips



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