David Dawson

A Sweet Spell of Oblivion

World première: 14 April 2007
Royal Ballet of Flanders, Theatre ‘t Eilandje, Antwerp, Belgium

Choreography, Concept and Staging David Dawson
Music Johann Sebastian Bach
Set Design John Otto
Costume Design Yumiko Takeshima
Light Design Bert Dalhuysen
Assistant to the Choreographer Christiane Marchant

There are moments when the past stands beside us and the present can be reflected in it for a short time. In such an instant the past transforms into a new existence, always carrying in itself the notion of a future.

‘The beauty of mankind and what makes it so valuable is the fact, that we are all human beings. And although we constantly try to develop systems in order to try to understand it, we are nevertheless always the same humans, who wake up in the morning, with a beating heart in our body and all the feelings, fears, uncertainties, which surround us. Thus, the human aspect will always be part of each artistic creation – it is always the desire to want to understand the human nature and what it is ‘to be a human’.
— David Dawson

In Dawson’s A SWEET SPELL OF OBLIVION it is only the breath of a veil that still separates the ‘before’ from the ‘now’; the past manifests itself suddenly and noticeably closer in the auditorium. As if carried by some spirit hand Johann Sebastian Bach’s music begins: a dream sequence without beginning and without end, flows past the eyes of the spectator, rich in situations and emotions, which constitute the notion of ‘being a human’ – and at the same time it always celebrates the technical perfection and virtuosity of a dancer.

‘For me oblivion is a place, which is free, a place of dreaming, an apparent place without name, a place outside of time. A SWEET SPELL OF OBLIVION is like a manuscript, like a reading of a score. The concept is based on the relationship between music and dance, memory and solidarity with history, technology, language and structure.’
— David Dawson

For A SWEET SPELL OF OBLIVION David Dawson made a selection of preludes from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. Through his own unique dance language, he expresses a variety of ideas. This is an ecstatic ode to dance and the dancer. Dawson’s approach to Bach is very sensitive, and his wealth of inventiveness, never trying to compete with the composer, but giving us his response through a series of scenes that suggest an abstract narrative and focus on the simplicity of dance, as opposed to the grand spectacle. The ballet is viewed as a dream in which for a brief while we lose ourselves in the whirling sequence of variations, of uninterrupted movements, and wake up as the work comes to its end.

Natalia Sologub - The Disappeared - Semperoper Ballett - photo © Costin RaduIstvan Simon, Andrea Parkyn - On the Nature of Daylight - Semperoper Ballett - photo © Costin Radu