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Kylian: Mozart and swordsthe choreographer, the rapier, what's the thing?


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#1 perichoresis

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 07:18 PM

What is it with Kylian, Mozart, and sword-play? In three ballets Birthday, Six Dances, and Petite Mort, all to the music of Mozart, the great choreographer has to a lesser or greater extent employed the rapier to augment his work.In Petite Mort six rapiers are integral to the work, almost serving as partners in themselves, six men provide astonishing sword-play but in an almost military way, only after this do six ladies join the chaps in Mozart's sublime sensual music.The work is suffused with aggression, sexual tension and energy, but also stillness and vulnerability.A Freudian sub-text no doubt springs to mind ( particularly as the French employ the term Petite Morte "little death" in a sexual context.) But kylian is too nuanced and dimensional to be reduced to such analysis.Six dances ( Mozart's Six German Dances) provides ribald, earthy and surreal fun, with disturbing under-tones , witty , coarse, and fast, The composer himself I'm certain would have loved it, his scatelogical Rabelasian earthy humour ( read his letters!) is wonderfully well represented.The chalk dust on wigs, the bizarre, witty nods to the Baroque and Rococo times...I am wondering, is it only when Kylian uses Mozart's music that the swords come out? Was Kylian ever a fencer?

#2 sandik

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 09:37 PM

I have no idea about Kylian's experience with fencing (though the use of the rapier as a prop in Petit Mort felt like it came from someone very familiar with the balance of the weapon) but perhaps it is a reflection of the early influence that fencing had on the development of ballet. The outward rotation, and some aspects of the primary positions are a descendant of fencing, which was considered as important a skill as social dancing for the well-educated Renaissance man.


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