Ballet in a Cave

Last night I went to see the Danish Royal Ballet in the Cuevas de Nerja. Last summer I saw flamenco and this year it was ballet. Actually, it wasn't the company itself, but just twelve of their 'stars'. The caverns certainly offer a unique setting for ballet and there were some moments when the effect was marvelous, but for the most part it was a little silly because the stage was tiny and the dancers were extremely limited in what they could do. If nothing else they deserve admiration for the adjustments they no doubt had to make to the choreography. Plus, there was the additional, and quite distracting, drama of the need to watch out for a large stalactite that was invading the left side of the stage. Watch out! They offered an eclectic program, mainly a series of pas de deux, which made sense given the stage's minuscule dimensions. My favorite was the opening number, Apollon Musagéte, a piece by Balanchine with music by Stravinsky, and it was not a pas de deux, but rather one male dancer and three ballerinas, including  Amy Watson, an American dancer who trained at the School of American Ballet in NY. I've always loved the great Russian composer and although I don't have any real musical literacy, I seem to 'get' Stravinsky. At the opposite end, we had a world premiere: "One and Seven". Hopefully it's one and done. Contemporary nonsense with a spoken narration that was pathetic. Dancers rolling on the floor... oh the suffering! Please! Unintentionally comic was "Petit Mort". This number seemed like a live Karma Sutra demonstration, but with the dancers dressed in underwear that was decidedly unsexy. Petit mort? It was about as sensuous as white bread. Unleavened. I must have missed it. Maybe there's something I don't understand about Danish customs. In any case, think Jack Lelane meets Madonna for a date at the gym. And it doesn't go too well. And besides, we weren't at the gym, we were in a real cave, where real neanderthals lived twenty or thirty thousand years ago (really!), but the male dancers last night were definitively uncavemen like. Well, it was fun, and there was some very beautiful dancing, so I don't want to sound too negative–the DRB is a great company with wonderful dancers. But I don't think I'll go to any more performances in Nerja. Apart from the squeaky stage and other minor distractions, I was in a constant state of semi-alarm, as I found myself frequently looking up at the huge and very menacing stalactite that was pointing right down at the crown of my head from the ceiling high above. Oh, to die in a cave, pierced by a stone needle! Grande mort! (In the photo, Silja Schandorff, one of the ballerinas who performed last night.)

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