Diana Vishneva – On the Edge at the Coliseum
Diana Vishneva: the name sounds like the hush of a Slavic gust of wind through the Siberian firs. The dancer is nothing short of mesmerising. She is exquisite to watch: every flex is perfection, the feet flutter en pointe with delicacy and control.
On the Edge features two pieces, both choreographed especially for the dance star. The first, Switch, is by Jean-Christophe Maillot and features another female and a male dancer. Vishneva makes an entrance in a metallic dress, designed by Karl Lagerfeld, like a dance superhero. At the start, she appears to be miming a walking stick while en pointe, ailing. Throughout the next half an hour or so, her love of dance appears to be rejuvenated until she is raising the same hand that shook on the walking stick in apparent jubilation. She performs a pas de deux with the barre, dragging it across the stage, before draping herself around it acrobatically, with affection and devotion. Maillot has described the piece as questioning the relationship between art and life, and the end seems to suggest art as healer. She is so consuming to watch, it is difficult to attend to the other dancers
In Woman in a Room, choreographed by Carolyn Carlson, we find ourselves glimpsing a minimalist pastoral scene, suggested by the projection of a window looking out on a tree with wind blowing in the leaves, with a huge table and subtly but almost continually changing lighting. It is just Vishneva and changing outfits – and the fruit. The music, by Giovanni Sollima, is reflective but insistent. The dancing includes elements of folk and flamenco. Vishneva creates angular and unexpected shapes, starting barefoot. Then, after dancing a folk-inspired passage, she reels onto the table to a sound that could be a train but is actually a roulette wheel settling on a number, perhaps suggesting how her simple love of dance led to fame and a life she would not otherwise have had.
Vishneva produces a knife and a lemon from the magical table and slices it in a way more comely than even Nigella could manage. These halves serve as eyes in some moves. It starts with one lemon, but then more and more fruit is spilled all over the table and stage, some sliced. As the piece ends, Vishneva writhes into the audience to proffer the fruit on a sliver platter. There is a surprised rustle as this elfin hyper-flexible Russian entity breaks the fourth wall, and is now loose in her audience, interacting with them via the medium of fruit. It makes the end awkward, but the weirdness and break in convention endears Vishneva to her audience.
A thought-provoking exploration of artistry.
On the Edge is on at the Coliseum until 18th of April 2015, for further information or to book visit here.