Beautifully dangerous or dangerously beautiful? Ecstasy and Death

How would you picture the different meanings of ‘sensuous’? ENB’s newest programme, the triple bill Ecstasy and Death, brilliantly captures them all. After weeks of gazing at the beautifully haunting images of the promotional campaign (in collaboration with Vivienne Westwood) our expectations are completely met as Rojo’s first season as an Artistic Director comes alive on stage. The programme promises ecstasy and death and, indeed that is what is served.

Photography by Chantal Guevara

‘Beautiful yet mortal’ or the mesmerising sensuality of Horst P. Horst famous picture Mainbocher Corset (1939) encapsulates ENB’s newest acquisition. Petite Mort (1991) by Jiri Kylian on music by Mozart presents the dancers with a challenge. Intimate without being directly sexual, the piece is particularly demanding, as it requires harmony between distance and closeness. Swishing of foils, a black silk drape enveloping the stage and disclosing female dancers in delicate flower-like positions, intimate duets and floating dresses, these are a few images from Kylian’s dreamy creation.

Deadly Ecstasy can be the subtitle to Tamara Rojo and Paris étoile Nicholas Le Riche’s bewildering interpretation in Roland Petit Le Jeune Homme et la Mort (1946). Choreographed on J. S. Bach’s Passacaglia for Petit’s wife Zizi Jeanmaire, the dance tells the story of young artist madly in love with a femme fatale. And so, in an apartment overlooking the Paris skyline, the dangerously alluring performance of Rojo, in a seductive and mortally attractive black hair bob, leaves no choice to the highly disturbed and restless Le Riche as she offers him a slip-knot, becoming at the same time bride and Death.

Photography by Chantal Guevara

‘Love and death of the dancer ‘can be the last motto as the evening is concluded by an ENB’s favourite with the majority of the company on stage in Harald Lander’s Etudes (1948) on music by Knudåge Riisager. A tutu ballet centred on the ritual of the ballet class, the piece depicts the sensuality and agility of the ballerinas’ legs in seemingly endless lines. Starting with simple exercises it is an etude of ballet conventions at the barre and centre, where Vadim Muntagirov conquered the public with great elevation and Erina Takahash with a glittery and bubbly interpretation.

Almost a visual exploration of sensuality with its mildly decadent and alluring femme fatales and seducers, we can only welcome Rojo’s choices for the company repertoire and wait to see what is up her sleeve next. To grow, dancers need challenging works; the whole company seems to have profited here.

Katja Vaghi