How long does it take to make your mind up about something? I consider myself to be quite a good decision-maker. By “good”, I generally mean quick. I have decided to move into houses based solely on the way the landlord opens the door. I try on and buy my winter coat every year in the space of about six minutes, depending on the till queue. I can tell you if I would sleep with someone after the first 0.45 seconds of first laying eyes on them.
I have learned tonight, however, that 25 minutes isn’t long enough to come to any sort of value judgement about Silver Swan at the Tate Modern. It’s a re-staging of Clod Ensemble’s 1999 voice-and-body thing that involves a 7-piece female choir accompanied by some dancers who move a bit like clowns and a bit like pissheads. That’s definitely the right way round; it really feels like the dancers are accompanying the music. In the Turbine Hall at Tate it becomes an enormo-work about scale and grandeur and humanity, as everything does in there, and it certainly sounds beautiful, but as a 20-something heathen with no real knowledge or experience of modern classical music, I needed it to be 90 minutes rather than 25. All I can tell you for sure is that I was really starting to get into it by the end. :(
(Swan attack LOL)
Lyrics from the songs that inspired the show were printed in the programme, and this one has made a bit of an impression on me. It’s either by John Smith or William Lawes or John Smith AND William Lawes but I can’t tell you for certain because searching for “John Smith” in conjunction with anything is a long and winding road TO DESPAIR.
THE SILVER SWAN
The silver swan who living had no note
‘till death approached unlocked her silent throat
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore
She sang her first and last and sang no more
Farewell all joys
Death come close my eyes
More geese than swans now live
More fools than wise
Beautiful innit. It brings out the 15yo emo in me. Also reminds me a lot of my favourite ever poem, We’ll Go No More A-Roving by Lord Byron, which is only marginally less depressing.
(Okay, so the internet says that The Silver Swan was actually by a dude called Orlando Gibbons, which I’m sure we can all agree is a vastly more Googleable name than John Smith.)
Remember when we all talked about the Brits at school the next day? Ginger Spice’s dress and Chumbawumba and all that…
Turns out I don’t give a shit any more, although I’m chuffed Laura Marling won Best Female and I seem to have adopted Tinie Tempah as my own personal life mascot so I guess I’m happy for him too. And Take That, aaawwww…
I didn’t watch tonight though. I just checked up on twitter every now and again and remembered what a bunch of toss the Critics Choice bollocks is.
So, yeah, I didn’t come here to talk about the Brits but I had a wee pensive moment when I remembered being 14. Anyway, to more pressing matters. I saw Umbrellas of Cherbourg by Kneehigh last night. I love Kneehigh because they understand how to make things look magical. Hannah says there’s too much emphasis on pretty and not enough on narrative, but the pretty is extra-extra pretty so I don’t really give a fuck.
To be honest though, I don’t know how much I should say about the show last night. Press night is Thursday, so we went to a half-price preview. There’s been a lot of stuff in the press about previews recently because some critics consider it bad form to review and some don’t. Of course, I not a critic, I’m one of those pesky blogger types who can throw caution and convention to the wind. So, I’m making a judgement call and telling you this: UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG CONTAINS THE BEST DANCE ROUTINE I’VE EVER SEEN AND YES THAT INCLUDES LADY GAGA.
It’s not extravagant, it’s not athletic. It’s not even particularly in time. It’s lazy, louche and can be performed - nay, must be performed - with fag in mouth and wine (bottle, obvs) in hand. It includes what I have come to term ‘Gaga monster fingers’ and a cool neck bit and a leggy-knee bit, and I SIMPLY MUST LEARN THIS DANCE.
It was my first proper not-an-induction shift at Curve tonight, and I was ushering for Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray.
Good things about the shift:
Dorian Gray is very very good. There’s an awful lot of homo-erotic nakedness and dead people hanging from a sort-of-cage-wall-thing and a picture of a man with exploded eyes.
I got to stand next to a couple who were talking in and brandish my torch like a weapon until they shut up. (They left in the interval. Mwahahahaha etc.)
You know when you start a new job and you say “everyone is so nice!” when really you mean “everyone is so nice apart from that twat over there”? Well, that twat obviously wasn’t working tonight because everyone was so nice!
Another usher girl asked if any of us had any tampons and I did so I used it to buy her friendship.
Bad things about the shift:
I had to stand up the whole time.
I went to get more little plastic ice cream scoops at the exact moment that a guy told the other usher on my door that Curve was a massive waste of public money and all the staff are shit. (I always miss good stuff.)
Primark should be banned from selling trousers made out of fucking bin bags.
Speaking of dancing, this is totally more my kind of thing.
Best Jackson tribute since Cockergate ‘96.
This is a trailer for Carlos Acosta in a ballet version of Spartacus. I dare you to watch it without concentrating on his penis.
Acosta was performing at The Lowry tonight as part of Manchester International Festival, and since the Press Team volunteer shifts are the cushtiest going, I waltzed on in there and saw the first half, having had extremely limited experience of ballet in the past. I saw Matthew Bourne’s adaptation of Edward Scissorhands a few years ago, but only little bits of that were proper ballet, and I once did work experience in Dorothy Perkins with a girl who went on to some prestigious dance academy somewhere or other. She had a stupidly long neck.
So, as a ballet novice, I remain constantly astounded that a semi-naked woman wrapping her thighs around the face of a man in tights is considered highbrow entertainment instead of niche porn, but there was no denying that the athleticism required for ballet is pretty fucking serious. Carlos Acosta was so muscular and so toned that his arse had turned a funny shape. His buttocks are conical, no word of a lie.
For the first part of tonight’s show they had designed this angular curtainy thing to look like a dance studio, with barres along two ‘walls’. Acosta and his lady-friend were dancing as if they were looking at themselves in the big long mirror (ie, the audience - If this was an A-level Theatre Studies essay I would now write some very insightful theories about the use of the fourth wall as a reflection of the artists’ narcissism etc etc yawn yawn) and I tell you, she had the longest legs I have ever seen in my life. When she did that walking on points thing that ballerinas do I actually felt my toenails ache in sympathy.
But then we had this rubbish scene change that was actually the most rubbish scene change I have ever seen in my life. They just put the curtain down for about fifteen minutes while the orchestra played variations on a train travelling urgently through the night. This must happen in ballet all the time though, because no-one around me seemed the least bit bothered. They all just sat and waited in the dark for him to come back on again, which he did, eventually, this time with a girl who looked like she’d been built out of dental floss on Blue Peter. She’ll have forgotten what it’s like to menstruate. Then they did jerky frantic niche porn instead of the graceful stuff from the first dance, and I found myself wondering how she stopped her lyrca body suit from riding up her arse crack.
Then there was a bit in some red pajamas that was done to a pretty amazing cello solo, but the choreographer had put a load of forward rolls in to get some laughs. I wanted them to bring the girl with the long legs back on again because she moved like she was just a wispy bit of something caught in a breeze.
I left at the interval, mostly because I was knackered, but partly because I learned that ballet just makes me wonder if the dancers are shagging.