Redeemed? Liberated?

Die Deutsche Bühne
Ute Grundmann

A tome pops out of the sky onto the stage. Monks in dark robes circle the closed volume, crawling, crawling around it fearfully and reverently. Whether it is the "Book of Books" remains open, but there must be something magical about the way a single monk, surrounded by Benel, carefully turns a few pages. This time-honored book is almost the only direct reference to Umberto Eco's novel "The Name of the Rose," after which Dan Pelleg and Marko E. Weigert have based their new ballet evening at the Theater Görlitz.

There is no William of Baskerville and his pupil, no book thriller, also (almost) no love story. But it is about power and domination, faith and doubt, resistance and liberation. To this end, the choreographer duo has selected music primarily from the 12th to 15th centuries, madrigals by Carlo Gesualdo, but also Mozart and Bach. And at first, the men in the dark robes dominate the almost empty stage with only a few steles at the side (stage: Britta Bremer). But then figures in white carefully mingle into the play, men and women alike in knee-length shirts, exploring themselves and the world, with pirouettes, but also angular movements with bent knees.

However, a cross illuminated with lights, like the book coming from heaven, restores the old order. To ominous music, two monks read, side by side in the book, but to an "Agnus Dei" they are again a man and a woman in white, carefully dancing around each other, moving on hands and knees, she curling around his body. They seem to be exploring their world, their terrain, as well as staking it out against the dark figures. However, this is not presented in a thesis-like manner, but more to be guessed at, and sometimes the mood of the music is danced rather than the content.

Then, between the dark and the white figures, a third group joins in, in dark, wide pants and skimpy tops, dancing almost dervish-like into the scenes and wearing horn-decorated caps. There worlds and powers meet and clash, mixing, separating, fighting.

One of the strongest scenes is the one with another symbol of power, a throne. A man conquers it - to the sound of a high-pitched male voice - by wrapping himself around the seat, stretching himself between the chair's legs; he already seems to be victorious until three of the figures with horned caps drive him away. Not the exact content, but the mystical mood of Eco's novel is something Pelleg and Weigert are always happy to take on: There's a scrawny white tree growing out of the stage floor, danced around by five monks; a white egg emerges from its roots, in front of which a man winds a woman around his body and unrolls it over her back. And finally, a fire bowl blazes to baroque sounds and a white rose protrudes from the side.

These are magical-mythical encores, over which the two choreographers do not forget their theme. Finally, the monks tear off their robes almost with relish, until all eleven dancers appear completely in white - liberated? Liberated? On the way to where? Not everything is explained and explicable in this 80-minute dance evening, which nevertheless develops a pull that is hard to escape. And at the end, a red rose glows and dies to Arvo Pärt's "The Beatitudes".