National Ballet of Canada Principal Greta Hodgkinson stars in Guillaume Côté’s new choreographic piece Being and Nothingness. It was first performed under the wing of the Company in Toronto in 2013. However, Anymotion Productions, an independent company run by Company dancers who previously developed the award-winning Lost in Motion series.
Being and Nothingness is a reflection in dance of a key theme in Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential philosophy. Using the mesmeric repetitions of Philip Glass – in Metamorphosis four – and a variety of subtly deployed choreographic strategies, Côté explores the shifting moments of consciousness that shape the nature of human identity constructed against the horizon of non-being….
… runs the blurb.
The filming of the piece – for it has been reconceived for the camera, not filmed onstage – was funded by a Kickstarter campaign and filmed on location at L’Abbaye d’Oka in Oka, Québec. It joins a growing body of ballet works designed specifically for streaming online, which range from Lost in Motion and Genesis (created by Crystal Ballet) to Sergei Polunin’s interpretation of Hozier’s Take me to Church. A niche market, but a growing one.
It is Crystal Ballet who are distributing the film worldwide at just £4. Certainly, it is only 8-minutes long, but a small gem which is precious nonetheless. Crystal Ballet, which is becoming the Netflix of ballet, features the ‘How to…’ series with Royal Ballet dancers Yasmine Naghdi and Marcelino Sambé on their site. Now under a new section entitles ‘Gems’ is Coté’s Being and Nothingness.
Henry St Clair, Crystal Ballet’s Artistic Director, says,
We are delighted to be launching our new ‘Gems’ – a collection of beautiful works created by ballet companies from around the world – with this spectacular film. Being and Nothingness is an inspiring work that we are proud to share with our audience.
Coté uses Glass’s relentless motives to create a relentless, agitated and intense piece supremely interpreted by Greta Hodgkinson. Coté has a unique choreographic voice with a use of hands and upper body which is compelling. It is filmed simply, by director Alejandro Alvarez Cadilla, in a loft-like space which concentrates all the emotion on the motion. An intimate dialogue between the camera and the dancer which allows a completely non-theatrical view of the art which is dance. Winning.
Being and Nothingness is available for £4 (or the equivalent in local currency) at www.crystalballet.com.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.