Tankard and White bring The Oracle to Adelaide
Leading Australian dancer Paul White returns to Adelaide with his internationally acclaimed performance of Meryl Tankard’s The Oracle. He spoke to Peter Burdon.
It’s more than five years since Meryl Tankard first approached dancer Paul White to collaborate on a new interpretation of that most iconic of dance scores, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. In Tankard’s vision, an episodic journey through pagan Russia is transformed into the choreographer Nijinsky’s descent into madness, coloured as it was with his conflicting views of religion and sex.
“Who could say no to that?” says Paul White. “Collaborating with one of the world’s best choreographers on a new take on one of the best scores anywhere. It was irresistible. I’d worked with Meryl the previous year on a development and that had gone really well, so I was happy to work with her again.”
[Image] Paul White by Regis lansac
A series of performances in Sydney and Melbourne in 2009 were very well received, but it was when Tankard got the work out again in the Rite of Spring centenary year of 2013 that everyone really took notice of White’s amazing physicality. “Meryl was very clear that the work had to embody Nijinsky’s strength as a dancer as well as his often sexualised performances,” Paul says. “Even though he didn’t dance in The Rite of Spring himself, you need to remember that it was around the same time that The Afternoon of a Faun shocked audiences everywhere with its overt sexuality, and it wasn’t the only time!”
And The Oracle was a true collaboration. “Meryl was clear that I should put as much of myself into the piece as I could,” Paul says. “And as it’s developed I feel really strongly invested in it. It was really interesting when we were preparing the piece for the 2013 performances, as we decided to change some aspects of the production which we’d thought about earlier on but had decided not to include. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s about showing vulnerability as well and really emphasising the linear beauty of the dancer’s body. I think it works really well.”
Enticing, isn’t it?
[Top image] Paul White by Regis lansac.
The Oracle runs August 20 – 23 in the Dunstan Playhouse. Book at Bass.