Kelly Apter on the British website (www.list.co.uk) lists five reasons why you should see Izadora Weiss' "Phaedra".
1. The story
Inspired by Greek mythology, Phaedra (or Phèdre) was written by 17th century French dramatist Jean Racine. Set in a royal court, it’s a racy tale of forbidden love, jealousy, lies and death. A missing husband, a wife’s love for her stepson, the stepson’s adoration for a girl from a rival family, and two servants stirring the whole thing up. It’s like a modern day soap opera – only a lot classier.
2. Izadora Weiss’ choreography
Since starting Baltic Dance Theatre in 2010, Weiss has become known for her love of narrative works, tackling The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Death and the Maiden, amongst others.
This latest production sees Weiss take Racine’s story and turn it into a passionate piece of dance theatre, sticking to the original narrative but adding her own special touches.
A large Greek chorus dressed in red moves as one breath, observing the action as love turns to tragedy. The six lead characters display real emotional integrity, wrestling with their own desires and the not-always-admirable qualities of those around them.
3. Beata Giza in the lead role
With her long blonde hair and black costume, Beata Giza cuts quite a dash before she’s danced a single step. But once she starts, she imbues the role of Phaedra with a single-mindedness that chills the stage, whilst hotting it up simultaneously. Weiss has been working with Giza for years – and it shows; this is a performance born out of close collaboration between choreographer and dancer.
4. The music
Gustav Mahler may not be the easiest composer to choreograph to, but it hasn’t stopped Weiss from using him twice in the past few years. This time, it’s his Symphony No.10 that accompanies the work – a piece Mahler wrote when he knew he was dying. Looking for inner turmoil? There’s no shortage of it here.
5. The staging
The blood runs freely in Racine’s original text, with the death count steadily mounting as the play progresses. Weiss echoes this with the staging, not only dressing the 11-strong Greek chorus / corps de ballet entirely in red, but the front of the stage is covered in thousands of blood red petals. Which Beata Giza as Phaedra puts to good use in the show’s tragic climax.