World première: 24 March 2005
Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet
State Academic Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia
David Dawson’s Reverence is pure poetry in motion. It is a piece about pure dance, and dance in relationship to music.
Dawson had already caused a stir in Moscow when the Dutch National Ballet showed his The Grey Area on tour. A year later he created Reverence for the Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet, which opened the 5th International Ballet Festival and brought Dawson Russia’s highest theatre prize for visual art, the Golden Mask Award, as Best Choreographer. In doing so Dawson became the first British choreographer to create a ballet for this legendary company.
The choreography communicates the delicately shaped simplicity with its aura of privacy.There are no untimely bursts of sound or cunning implosions of light, but a continual flow of highly inventive movements that never ceases to surprise. A sequence of intricately challenging variations, a great fluidity of improvisation as well as a spiral of bodies linked by the elbow or by the tip of the hand. Link and unlink, wind and unwind, coil and uncoil. These movements become an expression of our existence, of our time. Ballet-trained limbs mutate into angled, disjointed shapes, inscribing convulsive geometrics as they spin against their kinetic shadows. In a universe alternately frenetic and calm, a non-narrative of mystery and urgency, isolation and connection, the mechanical and the human occur: dance becomes a medium for infinite possibilities.
In Reverence Dawson gives the material a more human quality, letting one ‘feel’ the movement. By knotty de-constructions of classical dance he pushes dancers to the limits, keeping the movement in a constant state of always becoming, trying to make each individual see the ‘being’ each of them is playing and feel how one brings ‘that’ to life by going to the ends of one’s emotions. In the closing moments of the ballet all stand and focus intently on the final – understated deliverance, a feeling of something larger than ourselves. ‘Reverence is about staying true to classicism in a modern way. The dancers are still on pointe, and the language of ballet is very visible, but at the same time it is of today, it is now, it is not looking too much to the past. Only in its inspiration is it looking to the past. One could assume this story is about death, but actually it is a story about the future,’ says Dawson, ‘To revere something is to hold it in high esteem, and it is a gift’.
‘With this piece there is a certain somber quality to it. I think it’s one of the darkest ballets I’ve ever made. It is somehow about endings in a way. I know that I was leaving the company in Amsterdam at that point, and it felt like something was coming to an end, so I always think about it as a piece that is full of memory, a remembrance. There is this moment where everybody walks to the future and looks back to the past occasionally, and so I always feel that it’s dark but it has hope.’ (David Dawson)