World première: 7 September 2002
Dutch National Ballet
Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
David Dawson’s award-winning break-through The Grey Area points towards a place of no time and no place. A ‘no-man’s land’. With its wonderful free flowing phrases accompanied by Nielz Lanz’s haunting score, it transports us to another world. After winning the prestigious Prix Benois de la Danse award in 2003 this ballet is recognized as classic of our time.
This abstract, emotionally charged choreography deliberately dispenses with any stage elements. In this work David Dawson displays his talent for modern, atmospheric ballet and figuratively casts off the art form’s classical chains. Central to the work is dance with dynamic, classically inspired movements in a flowing, sweeping geometry. Beauty and timelessness liberated from gravity.
‘The Grey Area was a reflection of my life at the time of its conception, and a response to how I am reflected by what happens around me. It is a work about somewhere unknown. A place of high hope. An impression of a moment between endings and beginnings, or an impalpable state of being in itself. I had no permanent plans or fixed images of how the piece would finally look. I did know that I was interested in creating a space that could be emotional. Where the dancing could be a highly expressive use of classical ballet technique, but go beyond the traditional.
I worked on developing an expressive language with the dancers by exploring the individuality of each of them. The movement becoming more extended and circular in design, trying to create a kind of formless articulation, and concentrating on focus, dynamic, and message. I was working for a certain quality of movement. For the dancers to picture it mentally, to be involved in it physically, and for it to be happening to them emotionally. As if experiencing the movement for the first time as well as the last.’ (David Dawson)