The attraction of a Davos Open Forum session is obvious as the audience arrives much in advance to guarantee themselves a seat. Normally, we would enter the transformed swimming pool to find a neatly arranged row of chairs on the stage. The blue and white colored name tags are an early announcement of who will speak during the evening. But Thursday evening was different. Instead of chairs, we have a set of instruments and no label revealing the upcoming star of the evening.
I struggled through a number of ballet classes during my athletic career and consequently developed a healthy respect, if not an aversion, towards this physically demanding art. While living briefly in Russia, I had the privilege of witnessing Swan Lake at the Mussorgsky Ballet. After a few shots of Russian Standard as my aperitif, Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece was my entree. I was enthralled by lithe, agile bodies and engaging choreography. The dancers were performing for a discerning Russian audience, and their performance seemed to reflect the standards of the crowd. I was hooked. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to attend the World Premier of Ballet d’Europe’s H2O: Memories De L’eau, led by renowned choreographer, Jean-Charles Gil. Ballet d’Europe presented an astonishing, challenging and provocative production. Gil artfully fused the rough break-dance acrobatics of SisQuo and his team from Tangiers with the technical excellence of Ballet d’Europe. Set to the abstract and repetitive music of Laurent Perrier, the performance opened with hooded jumpsuit-clad dancers sliding onto the stage on lying flat on their backs. Their motions were abrupt and sharp, evoking the idea of something primitive and elemental. The anchored and halting motions of the Tangier break dancers stood in sharp separation to the vertical body language of the dancers of Ballet d’Europe, who soon entered. Gil explains that the heavy movements of the break-dancers symbolize oxygen atoms. These grounded motions contrast with the lighter hydrogen represented by the movements of ballet. As the first part progressed, the two distinct sets of dancers began to interact. Often three dancers moved together, representing the formation of water. These pairings would break apart and recombine with new combinations of dancers.