SHINE Pink Floyd Moon is a new dance work from Belgian choreographer, Micha van Hoecke, based on the British band’s most celebrated tracks. Their music is performed live by a ‘tribute’ band, Pink Floyd Legend, though that term might conjure up a negative image of bad wigs and costumes. No, this band, directed and fronted by the excellent Fabio Castaldi, just play Pink Floyd’s music – and they play it extraordinarily well. They pack out vast venues with their gigs and have a large, faithful following. To this, add dance from the Daniele Cipriani Company, and the result is a crowd-pleaser, but also a showcase for van Hoecke’s sensitive responses to Pink Floyd’s music, and the story behind that music with the tensions and heartbreak in the band itself.
Van Hoecke places the character of founder member Syd Barrett, on stage. There’s young Syd (superbly danced and interpreted by Mattia Tortora), full of hope and talent, writing songs for the group, as well as being its lead vocalist and guitarist. But the group ousted him after just three years together, and a decade later, Syd had disappeared from the music business. Excessive drug use and mental health issues came between him and his creativity, and this is what the moon represents here. As Mark Twain wrote, “Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” The dark side did, however, inspire the band to dedicate two works to Barrett: the 1975 song suite Shine On You Crazy Diamond (which provides the show with its title and its opening number) and the 1979 rock opera The Wall. Van Hoecke has the older, broken version of Syd onstage too in a committed performance from Denys Ganio. Ganio was one of the original dancers in Roland Petit’s celebrated Pink Floyd Ballet in 1972. However, Petit created his ballet before the band’s two works based on Syd Barrett came out and, to some extent, SHINE has a different sound palette.
Van Hoecke treats each number as a music video with its own look and range of movements, the common thread being the interweaving of the two Syds, as they are tormented or exhilarated by the music, and especially its lyrics. The dancing is energetic, and technically demanding with classical ballet moves – pointe shoes are occasionally used – contrasting with wild headbanging… from tours en l’air to air guitar. Some of the ensemble sequences are incredibly complex with multiple, rapid hand gestures and some tricky group coordination, all confidently handled by the 15-strong team of dancers. There are also some Fosse-esque moments, and tango positions in van Hoecke’s eclectic choreographic mashup. Among an outstanding cast, Ilaria Grisanti, Mattia Ignomiriello, Marco Lo Presti, Susanna Elviretti and Andrea Caleffi stood out.
Anna Biagiotti’s simple but effective costumes, the Pink Floyd inspired artwork by AnderTool projected onto a round ‘moon’, and suitably flashy rock-concert lighting added to the exhilarating frisson which permeated the air in Verona’s Teatro Romano. Surprisingly, the fusion of styles and genres has led to a thoroughly satisfyingly show both for rockers and balletomanes.