'Julian Macdonald’s gauzy crystal strewn costumes make the dancers glint like fireflies in the gloaming' Mary Brennan, The Herald

Choreography Richard Alston
Music Maurice Ravel Sonatine (1903-05), Oiseax Tristes, une Barque sur l’Ocean, La Vallee des Cloches from Miroirs (1904-05)
Pianist Jason Ridgway
Lighting Charles Balfour
Costumes Julien Macdonald

Shimmer is danced to the exquisite music of Ravel. His Sonatine initially sounds so pretty but though the surface is sunny enough, deeper there lie strange and resonant chords.  The pieces from Miroirs are even more haunting. In Oiseaux Tristes melancholy undertones create an atmosphere that is almost bleak. In contrast, Une Barque sur l’Océan is pure sun-drenched seascape, shimmering with a dazzling light and surging repeatedly in great waves. The last piece, La Vallée de Cloches, spins a delicate web of sound suspended between bell-like repeated single notes. When I made Shimmer in 2004, I only choreographed the first two movements of Sonatine - I have taken advantage of coming back to the piece to finally include the last movement.

Shimmer was made in memory of the art critic Bryan Robertson, whose generous friendship and lively enthusiasm were an inspiration that still lasts.

Julien Macdonald’s fabulous, jewel-encrusted cobweb costumes have a ravishingly beautiful sense of theatre, adding a wonderful magic to Shimmer. Like costumes from some lost Ballets Russes production, they are glistening and exotic. Julien was nominated for the 2005 Olivier Awrad for Outstanding Achievement in Dance for these costume designs and for our revival this season, they are glistening even more, thanks to extra Swarovski crystals added.

First performed at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury on 20 February 2004.

Ravel Dances, Stephanie Jordan’s illuminating essay, on the relationship between music and performance in Shimmer, is available online at  

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