The World of Maguy Marin.


This blog is dedicated to John Spradbery, a wonderful friend and lighting designer for Maguy Marin and for The Lindsay Kemp Company. John passed away on July 6th 2014.

Spradbery was inspired by the originality of Maguy Marin, working on a groundbreaking production of “Cendrillon” at l’Opéra de Lyon and “Leçons de ténèbres” at l’Opéra de Paris where lighting, costume and masks combined with choreography to unsettle the highly formal French audiences, John wrote in his diary at the time that , “ For me, Marin’s creativity […] has great  imagery, energy and basic feminine frailty that drew me to her.” Maguy Marin has described John’s work: “Much of the magic of “Cendrillon” came from him. His smoke, his mirrors multiplied the angles, his colours all brought a sharp and fairy-like atmosphere. It was a joy to watch him working. We didn’t have to talk much, he felt for things, his spirit freeing itself from the work of choreography.”


Maguy Marin was born in Toulouse, France in 1951. She trained at the Toulouse Conservatoire and in Strasbourg and, in 1970, she entered the school of Maurice Bejart in Brussels. Marin joined  Bejart’s company, Ballet du XX Siecle, three years later, where she danced as a soloist for four seasons.


Maurice Bejart: ‘Rite of Spring’ 1970



Bejart allowed her to experiment with her choreographic skills and Marin won the ‘Concours choreographique international de Bagnolet’ in 1978. She founded, with Daniel Ambash, the ‘Theatre de l’Arche’ which became the ‘Maguy Marin Company’ in 1984 and in 1989, the ‘National Choreographic Center’. She was influenced by Pina  Bausch’s Tanztheater movement.


Tina Bausch approached dance through the improvisations of her dancers, improvisations originating in her dancer’s own memories of personal experiences. In turn, these experiences  would extend into gestures, conversations, little scenes.  Bausch was in New York studying at the Juilliard School in the early 1960′s and possibly was aware  of the work at the Judson Memorial Church [see my blog] which produced Lucinda Childs and Meredith Monk.


Pina Bausch created her ‘Rite of Spring’ in 1975. She required the stage to be covered with soil:



Present in New York in the Sixties was a  choreographer with a strong visual concept of dance, Alwin Nikolais. He catagorized his body technique as ‘decentralization’. He had been inspired to become a dancer by Mary Wigman, the German creator of expressionist dance, and he later studied and worked with Hanya Holm, a protegee of Mary Wigman:


Alwin Nikolais:






The work of Maguy Marin is expressionist and  representative (a la Balzac) of  ‘La Comedie humaine’ . Marin expands upon the possibilities of mime and of  gesture.


Groosland: Here she explores the costume to portray fatness in motion and  emotion in fatness.




Love duet from Groosland:



May B: This is a stunningly visual piece, both of human suffering and abstract composition. The compositional structure feeds into the perception of the pitiful.







Ram Dam: Here the dancers create the music.



An excerp from Maguy Marin’s full-length ‘Cinderella’: Here is a ballet which uses costume to proclaim how universal fairy tale types are. It also draws upon mime. Cinderella here has a virginal coyness.


Russell Maliphant presents stunning new work in ‘Still Current’ at Sadler’s Wells.

I am excited to have been asked to write dance reviews for the world’s largest classical music website Bachtrack. Please read my review of Russell Maliphant’s ‘Still Current’, a breathtaking programme which is on tour internationally.

Rhythms from Rajastan to Spain.

From his earliest  experience of life, man must have discovered himself as instrument: foot stomping, clapping, vocalizing. As early humans could make tools, it was inevitable that they would create instruments from materials found in their environments, perhaps at first, to imitate the calls of the animals hunted. A pan pipe -like whistle was excavated from a cave site in France. We shall never know whether a woman or a man made the first instrument, but it is now thought that some of the handprints found blown onto cave walls belonged to female artists, based on the small size of the adult hand. Spirituality accompanied early humans. Could it have been a woman’s realm?


In ‘Dances of the “Roma”Gypsy Trail From Rajastan to Spain: Flamenco’, Miriam Peretz states:

Early Flamenco cante was accompanied by palmas alone without any instrumentation. Only later did the guitar develop. The Flamenco guitar developed from the kithara asiria from Egypt and the guitarra morisca (known as the oud in Middle-Eastern music.) As was the case with the dance, the first truly professional and accomplished guitarists began to appear during the period of the cafes cantantes. One of the first true guitar virtuosos was Francisco Diaz, or Paco Lucena. Sabicas, or Agustin Castellon, was another. Ramon Montoya was considered a great pioneer in bringing Flamenco guitar into its modern period and style. Enrique Morente, (from Granada) is another very famous guitarist, raised surrounded by Flamenco. Paco de Lucia is one of the most well known Flamenco guitarists of today. Early in his career, he made several great recording with the singer Camaron de la Isla, and later he became more experimental, fusing elements of Jazz and other styles.

Some records show that Hindu dancers entered Spain through Cadiz as early as 500 BC performing for royalty at festivals. These dances became part of the ceremonies in Roman temples and then later incorporated into the practices of the Christian church. Later with Moorish [conquest] the dances were performed in public, in a secular manner by the Moors themselves. The dance emphasized the upper body of the female; the torso, arms, and hand movements. There was much less emphasis on the legs and lower part of the body (because of Islamic influence.)

I wish to attempt to demonstrate how closely related Indian and flamenco dance are in rhythm and in design. From India:

To begin, here are excerpts from the Aditti Mangaldas  Dance Company in 2012:


‘Kathak’  is performed by Nrityabarathi Dance Academy. Kathak is one of the eight forms of Indian classical dance. It traces its origins to nomadic bards of ancient northern India called ‘kathakars’ or ‘storytellers’.



Meghranjani dances ‘Sudha Nritya’ a kathak dance. Note the rhythms set up in her feet.



‘Nataraja’ dance was a traditional Tamil concept. Shiva was first depicted as Nataraja in the famous Chola Bronzes and sculptures of Chidambaram. The dance of Shiva in Tillai, the traditional name for Chidambaram, forms the motif for all the depictions of Shiva as Nataraja. He is also known as “Sabesan” which splits as “Sabayil aadum eesan” in Tamil which means “The Lord who dances on the dais”. The form is present in most Shiva temples in South India, and is the prime deity in the famous Thillai Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram. [Wikipedia]



‘Bho Shambho’, a song in praise of Lord Shiva. The Rangoli Dance Company demonstrates some male dancing:



To Spain:


Carlos Montoya plays  flamenco guitar: rare video



Paco de Luca (1947-2014)




Rajamani’s singing may sound like flamenco, but it portrays the ancient roots of Roma/Gypsy music in Tamil folk India.



Compare Baile Eva’s astonishing rhythmic feet with those of Maghranjani (above). This dance from the region of Andalusia includes cante (singing), toque (guitar playing), baile  (dance) and palmas(handclaps).


Flamenco directed by Carlos Saura:



Finally, in ‘Blood Wedding’, based upon Federico Garcia Lorca’s play (1932) , a modern flamenco choreographer (Carlos Saura) brings us full -circle to the  ‘Kathak’ dance  tradition of storytelling. ‘Blood Wedding’ was to be part of a” trilogy of the Spanish earth”. The dancing shown  here depicts a conflicted Bride forcing herself to marry the Groom, in spite of the fact that she still loves another.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 61 other followers