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Hans van Manen's Twilight

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I recently watched a DVD of the Hans van Manen Festival and absolutely loved it. After watching the main program, I watched the ballet "Twilight," which was in the bonus features section. I can understand why it was put here, as it was of a much different tone and mood compared to the others. However, I found it absolutely intriguing.

Unfortunately, I cannot find much information about it. Mostly I've just found notes about the female dancer taking off her high-heels part of the way through. Not very enlightening. I was hoping someone might have some additional insight, perhaps in regards to what inspired Mr. van Manen to create this ballet. I was so struck by the contrasting artistic elements; the backdrop featuring huge spherical buildings, as well as a post and beam fence, the woman's and the man's costumes, the John Cage score. I found these different elements so powerful in the piece. I have my own thoughts and opinions regarding the piece but I was hoping for some historical context, shall we say, about the choreography and the creation.

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I can perhaps give you a few clues. The piece was made in 1972 for Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar who as well as being on-stage partners were also a couple off stage. She wears high heeled shoes - as Van Manen once said she has prepared feet, like the prepared piano. The decor is by Jean Paul Vroom and is some kind of chemical plant. It should fade away at one point, but I can't remember exactly (it's a long time since I saw the piece) and there has always been some technical difficulty in reproducing the original effect.

I've always thought that the piece takes its theme from the music; John Cage's The Perilous Night, which was written at a very difficult period in his life. Horst Koegler describes it as a "dramatic ballet for a man and a woman who fight out their precarious relationship with unrelenting provocation and aggression".

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I actually danced this piece when I was with Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet & funnily enough was discussing it with my pianist from City Contempory Dance Company today. It is a wonderful piece & so very exhausting if you put your heart & soul into it. With the concluding notes on the piano the dancers have to follow with a breath in & a breath out& you are so exhausted that it is hard to control your bodily function. You just want to pee your pants. When I danced this piece I was also dancing 3 other ballets on the same night & had several quick changes.

But it was a wonderful experience & I love Hans Van Manen

Lois Strike

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