Film The Ballet of the Nations ‘begins with Satan and Ballet Master Death discussing how to reintroduce chaos into a complacent society’. And if chaos in society sounds familiar, it will shiver your timbers to find out it’s based on a satire from 1915.
The film is the debut of Bristol-based dance troupe Impermanence. The Ballet of Nations screens Dartington followed by a Q&A with directors Roseanna Anderson and Joshua Ben-Tovim.
You could ask what resonance they find with then and now. Or how they stumbled upon The Ballet of the Nations. Or what inspired a dance troupe to take on a story with the world ‘ballet’ in the title.
The Ballet of Nations
The original The Ballet of the Nations was written by Vernon Lee in 1915 and was illustrated by Maxwell Armfield as a response to the outbreak of war.
This promises to be an energised, re-imagining of the satire. It was conceived at a time when there was a culture of experimental performance that was against the grain of mainstream theatre and in sympathy with the wartime peace movement.
Archives, art works, footage and photographs
‘Impermanence’s production reanimates that world of movement, sound and design, using the evidence of archives, art works, footage, photographs and illustrated books to develop a richly-textured evocation of the wartime artistic response,’ says the Impermanence site.
Narrated by Billy Zane, the film was shot in the atmospheric cavernous tunnels beneath Bristol Temple Meads. With the dance sections ‘evocative of the choric elements of classical Greek tragedy’.
Original, intricate and stylised
Impermanence’s film incorporates original dialogue inspired by Lee’s text, among intricate and stylised dance pieces, with production design by Pam Tait and an original soundtrack by composer Robert Bentall.
The Ballet of the Nations takes place at Studio 1, Dartington on November 1, 8pm. Shuffle your shivered but excited timbers to the Dartington site to book tickets