February 24, 2011

Songs for Drella - the ballet

Songs For Drella
photo: Scapino

Is it possible to transfer a rock album to the world of modern dance? Song For Drella, the tribute to Andy Warhol by John Cale and Lou Reed, was the last joint artistic effort by the founding members of the Velvet Underground. They used only their voices, electric guitar, keyboards and viola. A sparse record, put together with a lot of respect but not overlooking Warhol's quirks and flaws. During last nights première performance at the Stadsschouwburg in Rotterdam the Scapino Ballet proved that it can be done. Ed Wubbe & Marco Goecke created the choreography for Dutch ballet company Scapino. There were a few props involved, a gun was fired to mark the shooting of Warhol by Valerie Solanis, cheerleader pom poms made of aluminum foil, rattling pieces of paper, but no silver wigs or split screen movie projections to turn it into a multimedia event, safe for the start of the piece with a single dancer on stage and a rattling projector hanging overhead.

Not all songs of Drella were used. Slip Away (A Warning), It Wasn't Me, I Believe and Nobody But You were left on the shelf. Wubbe and Goecke added a bit of jazz and Big Apple Express from Cale's Stainless Steel Gamelan: Inside The Dream Syndicate Vol III album. This piece of avant-garde music made a part of the audience a bit restless, but it contained the best bit of the show from a musical point of vies when Trouble With The Classicists was faded in, keeping in time with the sound of the New York subway that inspired Cale's piece. Warhol was portrayed by two dancers, who projected his inner insecurities with jerky arm movements. The chosen jazz pieces were hit-and-miss. Oh no, babe by Jimmy Smith worked well, making a second appearance after the short first run of Big Apple Express and Mingus' Tijuana Gift Shop underlined the bric-à -brac life style of Warhol's youth. CG Train on the other hand grounded into s halt, the musical flow running out of steam in the process.

No sign of Warhol's beloved Maria Callas in the soundtrack, but that would have been a major challenge for the choreographers.

Songs for Drella

Ed Wubbe toyed with the idea to ask Cale and Reed to provide the music. But he realized that if that had actually happened, nobody would be interested in the dancers. The production is on tour in The Netherlands (February 18 - May 20, 2011).

Running order:

  1. Smalltown
  2. Tijuana Gift Shop (Charlie Mingus)
  3. Open House
  4. Style It Takes
  5. Work
  6. Oh No, Babe (Jimmy Smith)
  7. David Bowie Screentest (no music)
  8. CG Train (Charlie Mingus)
  9. Starlight
  10. Faces And Names
  11. Big Apple Express
  12. Oh No, Babe (Jimmy Smith)
  13. Images
  14. Big Apple Express
  15. Trouble With The Classicists
  16. A Dream
  17. Forever Changed
  18. Solo (no music)
  19. Hello It's Me

» scapinoballet.nl
» Songs For Drella

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