Tatyana, Barbican Theatre 2 February



Green Olgas and pink Tatyanas

The staff were very keen to hand out plot synopses for this show from the Deborah Colker Dance Company, but in the event it was all very simple.  There were four Tatyanas (pink), Olgas (green), Lenskys (yellow) and Onegins (blue) in the first half, together with a Pushkin (black) and Deborah Colker herself as another Pushkin.

I thought it worked very well, and managed in some ways to bring out more of Pushkin than either Tchaikovsky or John Cranko managed.  The Letter Scene, to Henryk Gorecki’s Three Pieces in the Olden Style was extremely intense as the Tatyanas wrapped themselves round the arboreal set and also wrote on their own bodies.  At least one of them captured a convincing Tatyana both gawky and shaken by the discovery of sex.

In fact, it occurred to me that this was the first ballet I’d ever seen that showed a convincing depiction of female sexuality–rather than working on the principle that ballerinas look like beautiful boys, so…–and even of a woman’s life in general (in the second half, when Tatyana grows up and Onegin degenerates).

Oh yes–in Pushkin, the narrator is the main character so I thought portraying Pushkin on the stage here was entirely appropriate, though all I can say for Deborah Colker’s performance is that it was pretty good for someone who is not quite so young as me.

At the beginning, I thought that these dancers would have been hidden at the back of the corps de ballet in this country or Russia, but then I realised they were after doing something else.  But I have some sympathy with those who have complained that the Olgas were characterised no differently from the Tatyanas.

Anyway, on the evening I went the performance was very warmly welcomed by a predominantly young, fashionably-dressed and female audience.

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