In November 2009 Cullberg Ballet, for the first time, made an entrance at the small stage at Dansens Hus in Stockholm. Crystal Pite staged her work xspectacle, sharing an evening with fellow Canadian, choreographer, Benoît Lachambre. xspectacle was originally created for the dance company BMJ Danse in Montréal and was highly acclaimed by the audience and press after its premiere in 2004. Pite worked together with Cullberg Ballet in Matter of a Maker, created directly for the company, already in 2008.
Cullberg Ballet performed xspectacle again in March 2010 at Dansens Hus and at the outdoor theatre Parkteatern in Stockholm in August 2010. In December 2010, the company opened an evening at Dansens Hus main stage in Stockholm with the piece, followed by Sylvie Guillem in Mats Ek’s Ajö.
xspectacle is a portrait of something familiar and dear to me: dancers working on a dance. The theatre is the frame, and the presence of an audience affects the picture: what was once practical and authentic becomes staged and self-aware. At times, the performers finesse and refine their destabilization in order to appear spontaneous. However, the presence of improvisation ensures that the unknown has a voice, and that the energy of risk and discovery is true.
xspectacle appears to be in rehearsal and in performance at the same time. The stage setting offers both the banality of unadorned, utilitarian space, and the heightened (expected) experience afforded by theatrical devices like lighting and sound. Similarly, the dancers’ physicality jumps easily between the banal and the heightened: they are both humble and spectacular. We witness their grunt-work and their mastery.
Returning to this work after nearly seven years has been both confronting and illuminating. It reminds me of what I love about dance: it is an ephemeral and adaptable art that is always in a state of creation. xspectacle continues to be formed and altered by the dancers that have inhabited it, past and present. I am so grateful to Cullberg Ballet for giving me the chance to work on it again. (Crystal Pite, November 2009)
Choreography and set design: Crystal Pite
Music: Owen Belton
Lighting Design: Crystal Pite, Daniel Ranger, Fredrik Rydehäll
Lenght: approximately 25 minutes
World premiere with LES BALLETS JAZZ MONTREAL, 2004. Premiere in Europe with Cullberg Ballet at Dansens Hus, Stockholm, small stage, November 25, 2009