We, the audience, were invited by the Master of Ceremonies to place ourselves in the shoes of Dante and to accompany our host on a journey through hell, and up the mountain of purgatory to paradise. So far, so good. What followed was puzzling, cheeky, rude, suggestive, funny, but also sad and monstrous. Dante with a sprinkling of Cabaret and a lot of red noses.
My ticket said “La Commedia – The best of…” but I had no time to do any homework on Emio Greco | PC and so I didn’t know that last night’s performance was a digest of a series of performances: Hell, Purgatorio In Visione, Purgatorio POPOPERA, and you PARA|DISO. Work going back to 2006, all wrapped up into one evening, and seven dancers for each of the seven days of the journey – assuming that was the intention behind each dancer representing a day of the week?
The dancers were introduced one by one, pirouetting, somersaulting and rotating like spinning tops into the spotlight, each one wearing outlandish costumes, each one completely different from the other. There were brightly colored tights, frilly knickers, body stockings, short skirts on men, a fake beard on a female dancer. None of the elegance and restrained color schemes of the Scapino Ballet here. Their names also conjured up something otherworldly: Vincent Colomes, Dereck Cayla, Sawami Fukuoka, Suzan Tunca, Neda Hadji-Mirzaei, Victor Callens and Emio Greco. Trained dancers, one and all, their skills and professionalism were breathtaking. Five of them are trained ballet dancers, four are graduates of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, and another two are trained in contemporary dance.
Yet, I had only the vaguest idea of what the dancers were communicating and I can’t help wonder what it takes to truly understand dance. Is it even possible for someone in a seat at the theatre, who has never danced in her life, to penetrate that language and understand the messages?
We left the theatre to find that a thick fog had rolled in on the back of a wet, cold and strong southerly. The Westin Hotel, less than 100 meters away, loomed ghostly out of its white wrapping, only recognizable by a row of lit windows on the 10th and 11th floors, but tram number 4 guided us safely out of purgatory.