Bach’s cello suites are rarely performed together. However, this collaboration, between choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, unites Bach’s six cello suites in an understated yet beautiful embodiment of the connection between movement and music.
A solo dancer accompanies each suite. Some performers catch at the lighter phrases of the score, others offer a more introspective interpretation, but each brings their own unique energy and, before the suite draws to a close, is joined on stage by De Keersmaeker herself.
Together, they softly shift their bodies across the bare stage, their steps casually skimming the ground, their arms sweeping lightly through the air. In each duet their movement is gentle and explorative, as if sensing their way through the layers of Bach’s score.
The format threads the suites together, emphasising their musical similarities. Yet the shift in momentum with each new solo also draws the attention to each suite’s individuality.
At two hours with no interval, it’s a work that borders on indulgent. Yet there’s also a remarkable sense of space to the piece; it allows the audience time to listen, observe and contemplate. That quietude peaks in the fifth suite when Queyras is alone on stage, his shadow playing upon the wall. It marks a moment of rest before the final suite springs into life, the performers joining together in a playful gathering of ideas.
In this contemplative expression of Bach’s cello suites, De Keersmaeker offers her audience the chance to get lost in either music or movement, as you please.