The Curse of the Dying Swan. Cristina de Mello Dance Co in the National Multicultural Festival. Written, choreographed and performed by Erika Schneider and Cristine de Mello. Courtyard Theatre, February 12 and 13, 2008.
This is a 40 minute piece of apparently naïf dance/narrative, but quite poignant.
It seems to be autobiographical, with a story of the dancers having given up their training 11 years ago. Yet we are left then having to decide if the nice but not perfect ballet work is really the result of 1. not having performed for so long, or 2. because they gave up training when they realised that they were never going to get up to the standard required to dance the dying swan(and haven’t), or 3. because the whole thing is a fiction in which these characters have never become the dancers they once hoped to be.
Reasons 1. and 2. would be really naïve, but brave. And rather sad. How would you feel if you had trained for something like dance from the age of five, come to love doing it, but at fifteen knew that you would never make it to the top. It is risky to tell the story and show it through dance, and we in the audience can sympathise with the dancers’ feelings.
Reason 3. makes the story and the dance work seem disingenuous. We get the idea, but the sense of failure and the feeling of sadness and loss is weakened. This is because when they speak, using their own names and seeming to tell their own stories, we can’t be sure of our ground. In this case how do we know that Cristina and Erika are top-class dancers performing “Cristina” and “Erika” who are less than top-class dancers, when they don’t display top-class technique?
I’m going to plump for Reasons 1. and 2. because I preferred to feel sympathetic and a bit sorry for them, rather than worry about whether I had been cleverly fooled. Perhaps I’m rather naïve, but I feel happier this way.
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