March 11, 2020
The Scottish Ballet presented their program This is My Body... at the Joyce
with two remarkably different pieces. Sibilo, created by Sophie Laplane, was a humorous
number that didn’t do enough, while MC 14/22 (Ceci Est Mon Corps), choreographed by Angelin
Preljocaj, was an aggressive number that did too much.
Sibilo, which translates to hiss or whistle in Latin, was inspired by the nuances of
whistling. Set to an original score of music and sound by Alex Menzies, the ambiance bounces
between quirky humor and disturbing manipulations within relationships. Much like the piece,
the score was jumpy and disconnected.
Springing from electronic beats, to 1950’s string
ballads, human whistling, and the blowing of a whistle, the score jumps around as the four
couples attempt to match it--making it easy for an audience member to get lost. While the movement phrases
at times felt overly predictable, there were cleverly placed and intricately partnered duets
poignantly thread throughout.
The dancers’ movements skid from angular sequences, to flighty
gestural sections which made for an unfortunate energy that just didn’t fit. Though the theme
and variation were clear, the obviousness of the work left the piece feeling flat.
MC 14/22 (Ceci Est Mon Corps) was indeed a more grounded and primal work, though
no more fulfilling. Noted as a “hymn to the male body”, the piece features twelve men who
explore their masculinity in a viscously exhausting way. This work is based on the Gospel of St.
Mark, Chapter 14, Verse 22, in which Jesus Christ states, “Take it; this is my body”. Inspired by a
story from the Last Supper (the night before Christ is crucified for heresy), the piece begins in a
visually stunning ritual as a men dressed in white underwear bathe one another upstage.
soft lighting by Patrick Riou is haunting. Another man upstage makes a tape pile on the ground.
The rest of the eight men are in the back, stacked on a series of piled metal tables resembling
bunk beds. They move in slow, rhythmic patterns which curl in and out of fetal position.
It is a
striking opening which gave me high hopes. Unfortunately, this beautiful image is unfurled into
a messy chaos of anxiety and relentless aggression. The minute the tables are unstacked, the
dancers brutally manipulate and violate one another. They choke, gag, and push the breath out
of each other. They physically suppress one another by throwing and thrashing in ferocity.
While the beginning felt like an opportunity to explore a beautiful and archetypal concept, the
end left me in an uneasy cesspool sick to my stomach. Perhaps since men have been exploring
their masculinity on stage for, well for forever, maybe it’s time to leave that memo behind.. no
more good can come out of it.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mia Silvestri