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The Choreographic Archive of Siobhan Davies Dance

Title: Dance Work

Work: Carnival

Summary

Carnival is set to Camille Saint-Saens much loved Carnival of the Animals (1886). Originally choreographed for Second Stride in 1982, it was televised in 1983 and has subsequently been remade several times, either in part or as a whole work. In 2008 Rambert Dance Company remade the work using the full title of Carnival of the Animals.

Analysis

Carnival was included in Second Stride’s tour to America in 1982.

‘Under the guise of an ''Alice in Wonderland'' type of work, Miss Davies offered ''Carnival,'' whose charm should not conceal the complexities of some of the choreography. Like ''Alice,'' the work can appeal to children and adults on different levels, and it features animals with short tempers who act like humans. Saint-Saens's ''Carnival of Animals'' is the pretext, but each section offers rather abstract animals. The conceit is to have the dancers in white tails at a 1920's house party. They are people acting like animals who act like people. Occasionally, they put on sporting caps, swing invisible golf clubs and in the beautiful ''aquarium'' section, put on powder-blue gloves and become both surf and swimmers. Philippe Giraudeau has a touch of gold as a dancer. In ''The Swan'' he is a Cubist angular fowl, his hands steepled behind his back - the antithesis of Anna Pavlova's famous solo to the same music. In the ''Cuckoo'' section, he is touching as the admirer Miss Fisher rejects. He brings hand to heart at each cuckoo sound; she covers her ears each time’ (Anna Kisselgoff, New York Times, July 19 1982).

Its revival in 2008 was reviewed by several critics, including those who had seen the earlier version:

‘...Recaptured from the past at Rambert’s request, it could be the most endearing dance that this veteran British choreographer has made. Backed by an enlargement of a Rousseau jungle scene, Davies’s abstract zoological study is a delight. It is also probably the best and least literal interpretation of Saint-Saëns’ enchanting music that exists. Elegant in white tailcoats, the eight dancers (including Angela Towler) slip gracefully between suggested incarnations as finned, feathered or four-legged creatures. Highlights are a blue-gloved school of fish, Kyril Burlov’s extended handstand in the Long Ears section and Alexander Whitley’s beautiful turn as a swan. It’s crowd-pleasing without condescension’ (Donald Hutera, The Times, May 22 2008).

‘Charm is the most elusive of qualities: it cannot be worked at; it comes as a gift. But it is a quality that Siobhan Davies ensnared back in 1982 when she created Carnival of the Animals for Second Stride. And it has been preserved in this current revival for Rambert, as has Davies' skill in choreographing characters who flicker between animal and human and who sustain a witty conversation with Saint-Saëns's score. Davies' eye for the image that defines each of the 14 sections is wonderfully acute, from the fastidious, scratchy walk of the rooster and hens, to the gliding elegance of the solitary swan. Pure genius is the lovelorn cuckoo who mimes a beating heart to the dying fall of its own musical call’ (Judith Mackrell, The Guardian, May 22 2008).

‘For Rambert, the find was a piece of vintage Siobhan Davies. Made in 1982, her Carnival of the Animals, set to Saint-Saëns, has all the spare, cool obliqueness of early British contemporary dance with an added touch of Johnny Morris. Against a richly lit reproduction of "Le Douanier" Rousseau's self-portrait with jungle animals, dancers in natty white tailoring respond to the music's imagery in the least obvious of ways. The Hens & Roosters squeak their sneakers against the floor in a fussy disco strut, a pair of can-can dancing Tortoises crouch under giant feathered fans, while the Cuckoo's clarinet call becomes the beating heart of an unrequited lover, a Buster Keaton in blazer and boater and sweet, lugubrious face. The pogo-jumping piano hammers clearly drew a blank for some of the audience. This was the composer's little in-joke, "Pianists" being zoological specimens in his view. Just as inspired, though superficially more conventional, is Davies' male solo Swan. Almost simultaneously we're made aware of not just the creature's elegant stretch and power, but also the eddying surfaces around it, even its bulky contact with the water. It's a small miracle of distilled and cross-connected imagery – the sort of thing lit-crit would have a long Greek word for. The ultimate highlight, though, both musically and visually, is the glistening Aquarium sequence, as the full complement of Rambert dancers don long, blue satin gloves for a Hollywoodesque display of synchronised swimming. Hats off to conductor Paul Hoskins for the glistening, glamorous veil of orchestral colour he drew from the London Musici in the pit. Pure magic, and worth the ticket in itself’ (Jenny Gilbert, The Independent, May 25 2008).

Dance Work

  • Series Title: Carnival
  • Title: Dance Work
  • Choreographer: Siobhan Davies
  • Dancers: Paul Clayden, Siobhan Davies, Ann Dickie, Juliet Fisher, Philippe Giraudeau, Jeremy Nelson, Catherine Burge, Maedee Dupres, Betsy Gregory, Matthew Hawkins, Michele Smith, Ian Spink
  • Music: Camille Saint-Saens
  • Music - comments: Carnival of the Animals (1886)
  • Designer: David Buckland
  • Lighting Design: Peter Mumford
  • Costume Maker: Sasha Keir, Pat McNamara
  • Film Director: Geoff Dunlop
  • Painter: Sue Robson
  • SDDO Creator: Paul Allender and Ross Varney
  • Summary: Carnival is set to Camille Saint-Saens much loved Carnival of the Animals (1886). Originally choreographed for Second Stride in 1982, it was televised in 1983 and has subsequently been remade several times, either in part or as a whole work. In 2008 Rambert Dance Company remade the work using the full title of Carnival of the Animals.
  • Analysis: Carnival was included in Second Stride’s tour to America in 1982. ‘Under the guise of an ''Alice in Wonderland'' type of work, Miss Davies offered ''Carnival,'' whose charm should not conceal the complexities of some of the choreography. Like ''Alice,'' the work can appeal to children and adults on different levels, and it features animals with short tempers who act like humans. Saint-Saens's ''Carnival of Animals'' is the pretext, but each section offers rather abstract animals. The conceit is to have the dancers in white tails at a 1920's house party. They are people acting like animals who act like people. Occasionally, they put on sporting caps, swing invisible golf clubs and in the beautiful ''aquarium'' section, put on powder-blue gloves and become both surf and swimmers. Philippe Giraudeau has a touch of gold as a dancer. In ''The Swan'' he is a Cubist angular fowl, his hands steepled behind his back - the antithesis of Anna Pavlova's famous solo to the same music. In the ''Cuckoo'' section, he is touching as the admirer Miss Fisher rejects. He brings hand to heart at each cuckoo sound; she covers her ears each time’ (Anna Kisselgoff, New York Times, July 19 1982). Its revival in 2008 was reviewed by several critics, including those who had seen the earlier version: ‘...Recaptured from the past at Rambert’s request, it could be the most endearing dance that this veteran British choreographer has made. Backed by an enlargement of a Rousseau jungle scene, Davies’s abstract zoological study is a delight. It is also probably the best and least literal interpretation of Saint-Saëns’ enchanting music that exists. Elegant in white tailcoats, the eight dancers (including Angela Towler) slip gracefully between suggested incarnations as finned, feathered or four-legged creatures. Highlights are a blue-gloved school of fish, Kyril Burlov’s extended handstand in the Long Ears section and Alexander Whitley’s beautiful turn as a swan. It’s crowd-pleasing without condescension’ (Donald Hutera, The Times, May 22 2008). ‘Charm is the most elusive of qualities: it cannot be worked at; it comes as a gift. But it is a quality that Siobhan Davies ensnared back in 1982 when she created Carnival of the Animals for Second Stride. And it has been preserved in this current revival for Rambert, as has Davies' skill in choreographing characters who flicker between animal and human and who sustain a witty conversation with Saint-Saëns's score. Davies' eye for the image that defines each of the 14 sections is wonderfully acute, from the fastidious, scratchy walk of the rooster and hens, to the gliding elegance of the solitary swan. Pure genius is the lovelorn cuckoo who mimes a beating heart to the dying fall of its own musical call’ (Judith Mackrell, The Guardian, May 22 2008). ‘For Rambert, the find was a piece of vintage Siobhan Davies. Made in 1982, her Carnival of the Animals, set to Saint-Saëns, has all the spare, cool obliqueness of early British contemporary dance with an added touch of Johnny Morris. Against a richly lit reproduction of "Le Douanier" Rousseau's self-portrait with jungle animals, dancers in natty white tailoring respond to the music's imagery in the least obvious of ways. The Hens & Roosters squeak their sneakers against the floor in a fussy disco strut, a pair of can-can dancing Tortoises crouch under giant feathered fans, while the Cuckoo's clarinet call becomes the beating heart of an unrequited lover, a Buster Keaton in blazer and boater and sweet, lugubrious face. The pogo-jumping piano hammers clearly drew a blank for some of the audience. This was the composer's little in-joke, "Pianists" being zoological specimens in his view. Just as inspired, though superficially more conventional, is Davies' male solo Swan. Almost simultaneously we're made aware of not just the creature's elegant stretch and power, but also the eddying surfaces around it, even its bulky contact with the water. It's a small miracle of distilled and cross-connected imagery – the sort of thing lit-crit would have a long Greek word for. The ultimate highlight, though, both musically and visually, is the glistening Aquarium sequence, as the full complement of Rambert dancers don long, blue satin gloves for a Hollywoodesque display of synchronised swimming. Hats off to conductor Paul Hoskins for the glistening, glamorous veil of orchestral colour he drew from the London Musici in the pit. Pure magic, and worth the ticket in itself’ (Jenny Gilbert, The Independent, May 25 2008).
  • Publisher: SDDO
  • Production Date - original: 1982
  • Production Date - SDDO: 2008-04-03
  • Media type: Profile
  • Format - original: VHS
  • Source: SDDO
  • Relation: Profile
  • Word Count: 0
  • Tour: 13/05/82 - Arts Centre, University of Warwick (Premiere, Second Stride) Rambert Dance Company 20/05/08 - 24/05/08 - Sadler's Wells, London (Revival premiere) 25/09/08 - 27/09/08 - The Lowry, Salford 08/10/08 - 11/10/08 - Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe 16/10/08 - 18/10/08 - Theatre Royal, Norwich 29/10/08 - 31/10/08 - Festival Theatre, Edinburgh 11/11/08 - 15/11/08 - Sadler's Wells, London 19/11/08 - 22/11/08 - Malvern Theatres, Malvern 26/11/08 - 29/11/08 - Theatre Royal, Plymouth
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  • Permanenent URL: http://siobhandaviesreplay.com/record/42