Review: the two sides of the same coin

Mihkel Truman,

The Vanemuine has staged two short ballets together.While Gatsby and La Dolce Vita are quite different in their choreography, music and mood, they form an enjoyable whole being two sides of the same coin.

As everyone even slightly interested in culture has read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, the story figuratively narrated in the ballet by Silas Stubbs is well understood by the audience.Although the dancing conveys the feeling of the women’s emancipation that thrived in the 1920s, and the atmosphere at the time in general, it does not capture the grand, but shallow glamour of Fitzgerald’s world.The costumes also appear a little uniform (especially those of the female dancers) and the scantily decorated stage does not contribute to the depiction of the exuberant and lavish way of life.

However, on the other hand, the figurativeness and modesty of the stage design highlights the people (and everything about them at that point in time) and the dancing.One may assume that if the director had placed more emphasis on the decorative glamour, the delicate and contemplating dance would have been eclipsed and it would have faded.For the lonely and massive crescent hanging above the stage being perhaps even more effective in creating the atmosphere than the ballroom gilded with sparkling chandeliers.At first it seemed that the wreck of the castle in the sky was settled on a little hastily and perfunctorily.But upon reflection the few bank notes whirling in the air and Daisy disappearing into the blackened sky on the crescent give the discreet and restrained performance an effective finale.

The contemplating, gentle and romantic Gatsby is the opposite in every way to La Dolce Vita that sizzles with passion.Giorgio Madia has given a more natural and less pretentious substance to the pleasures in life, hence there is no need to fear such a comprehensive collapse of a way of life built in the sky as in Gatsby.

Everything that we see on the stage is simple, humane and springing from the person.Everyone’s dreams and pleasures seem so commonplace that the choreographic expression of these, at times even balancing on the borderline of frivolity, is pleasantly suggestive.Despite the fact that La Dolce Vita shows a much greater amount of strength and colour, it is as decorous as Gatsby in its substance and form.The figurative stage design has been used in the best possible way in the interests of the moods and events depicted in the production.

The Italian passion in the choreography is inwardly charged to the extreme and artistically convincing.And such a palpable living force is probably not that common on the Estonian dance stage.  Erotic tension was especially well conveyed in the step dance number the power of which seemed to reach every corner of the grand hall of the Vanemuine.

Both Gatsby as well as La Dolce Vita are solid and wholesome ballet productions in which the dancer and his/her person have been highlighted deservedly.As the troupe consists of dancers of very diverse origin and background, the display is varied and exciting.