A Million Kisses to my Skin
The triple bill that opened the ENB season balanced well but head and shoulders above the rest was David Dawson's A Million Kisses to my Skin. It inhabits a rareﬁed atmosphere while remaining accessible and appealing. Dawson gives the classical vocabulary a rebirth. Familiar steps, set against a formalist frame, take your breath away with their new-minted candour. The detail matches Bach's cascades of notes. Partnering is timed to a nanosecond and the dancers skim the stage, almost ready for lift-off. All nine dancers excelled themselves. The quality and depth of this ballet is echoes in the designs. Yumiko Takeshima’s stylish new designs, simple, pale and body hugging, add clarity while Bert Dalhuysen’s lighting was just perfect.
Maggie Foyer | Dance Europe
Dawson certainly scored a hit at the Wells with his A Million Kisses to My Skin, a ﬁzzy ensemble piece set to Bach's keyboard concerto in D minor. Made in 2000 for Dutch National Ballet (when Eagling was director there) A Million Kisses is Dawson's farewell to his career as a classical dancer and is meant to evoke the sheer physical pleasure he experienced moving on stage.
The choreography does this by combining speed and seductive stretch, and by giving the nine dancers plenty of freedom to let loose. Dawson's off-kilter virtuosity sends sparks ﬂying through the ensemble as if determined to knock them all off their perch. Fun? You bet.
Debra Craine | The Times
Just right was David Dawson's A Million Kisses to My Skin. At ﬁrst, one wondered if this sense wasn't largely the result of its being set to Bach's sublime Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor, but not so. In fact, Bach is far from easy to choreograph to, and, rather than ennobling feeble steps, the no-nonsense perfection of his music is liable to make any second-rate interpreter look a complete wally.
Throughout, Dawson - a shrewd acquisition by ENB director Wayne Eagling - followed the intricate dialogues between keyboard and strings sensitively but never slavishly, and the music's energy and dignity came compellingly alive. The opening and close were exuberant but always elegant, the patterns always interesting.
At once majestically and hesitantly, and despite the ballet's complete absence of narrative, something seemed to be happening. There was a coiled muscularity both to their performance and to the steps, and the couple genuinely seemed to be talking to each other through them. It was poised, passionate and stirring, and the sentry-like presence of other dancers at the rear of the stage added a dash of De Chirico-like mystery, too.
Mark Monahan | The Telegraph
David Dawson created A Million Kisses to My Skin to evoke the frisson of 'complete bliss' that sometimes comes to dancers during a wonderful performance. It is a risky concept for a ballet, open to all manner of self-indulgence from both its choreographer and performers. But with ENB ﬁelding a cast of their ﬁnest principals, this is a work that delivers serious pleasure. Dawson's ﬁrst achievement is simply to keep pace with his chosen score, Bach's Piano Concerto No 1, which he does in an unhesitating cascade of ﬂuid, ﬁne-sprung choreography. His second is to inﬂect his neo-Classical vocabulary with a rich and private resonance. Wayward details lend a hot, giddy urgency to the dancing; a luxuriant tug of rubato seems to open up glimpses of the dancers' interior lives. With a cast of just nine, Dawson ﬁlls the stage with mysteriously shifting shapes that splinter, echo and reform like accumulating memories.
Judith Mackrell | The Guardian
Dawson’s A Million Kisses to my Skin (2000) is hardly a standard curtain raiser but is always welcome for the pleasures it offers…This is a ballet of living dangerously, skimming on the angle of the pointes, racing to meet the tight musical deadlines and amazingly, just getting there.
Maggie Foyer | Dance Europe
The more one sees this ballet to Bach, the more intoxicated one becomes with its crafted innovation. Dawson mines a liquid, quivering energy from the classical vocabulary, adds a dash of rugged anarchism and plays wicked havoc with conventions. A series of frenetic turns, for instance, may well serve as a preparation for a scarily acrobatic lift, or double lame ducks precede a reckless penché. He pushes his dancers remorselessly yet Agnes Oaks and Thomas Edur manage to turn linear contortions into silken weave, and Takahashi carves her way through one killer of a variation without a hint of breathlessness. Daria Klimentova skims through Dawson’s vigorous athleticism with similar ease, and Laura Bruna’s meaty runs remind us that we are a hundred years away from Petipa.
Emma Manning | Dance Europe
The evening started with Bach in light blue. A tingle on my skin, butterﬂies in my stomach and the feeling that I wanted to embrace the world and that I could jump to the sky.
Boris Michael Gruhl | klassik.com
Clear walls, totally in concentrated blue, surround the scene where choreography for nine dancers and the musical voices and leads of Bach’s Piano Concerto in D Minor subtly unite in A Million Kisses to my Skin, along with the both precise and sensitive internationally acclaimed ballet pianist Olga Khozianova. A total work of art that is humble only to dance, the feeling of existence provided by dance that wins us over with the alternation, the parity of the soloist expression and the integrated group formulation.
Ursula Fuchs-Materny | Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten
For Bach’s Piano Concerto in D Minor, the ensemble provides a sparkling aperitif full of euphoric lightness. In front of rectangles covered with azure blue material, the dancers ﬂoated and gyrated freely and effortlessly over the stage. Pianist Olga Khozianova gave a top performance in order to provide a feast for the ears to accompany the treat for the eyes. Heartfelt applause and bravos for a successful premiere.
Claudia Homberg | Dresdner Morgenpost
In a brilliantly blue space, David Dawson subjects nine dancers to a fulminous attack. Even though the ﬁgures have names, no further content is imparted other than twenty minutes of dance set to “continuous ﬁre”. This dynamically quickens Bach’s notes tightly along the structure of the three parts of the concert.
Volker Draeger | Neues Deutschland
The title of the piece - A Million Kisses to my Skin - might evoke associations of a sensual kind, but far from it. Composition, set and music all have formal, abstract qualities which superbly complement each other to meld into a uniﬁed whole, leaving strong and lasting impressions. This was a piece of modern art, perhaps a Mondrian painting considering the colour scheme of the ﬂowing costumes and the geometrical patterns which dominated the set, translated into dance. The music by Bach added to the work’s somewhat intellectual yet highly forceful and vibrant ﬂair. Undoubtedly a very mature piece, this is full of technical demands and distinguished by its excellent compositional qualities.
Alexandra Kolb | Theatreview
The setting and staging og the ﬁnal work A Million Kisses to My Skin was elegant and reﬁned. The dancers responded to the rigorous patterns of the Bach Piano Concerto forming tight structures and carefully delineated lines.
These carefully conﬁgured sequences were then interspersed with virtuosic dancing to the more expressive cadenzas of the music. All this airy diaphoanous dancing along with the serene abstract music of Bach provided an ethereal spiritual experience. This was cerebral dancing of the highest quality in which classical form and contemporary ambience merged.
John Daly-Peoples | The National Business Review
A Million Kisses to My Skin choreographed by David Dawson, was set to the music of J S Bach; a composer whose music begs to be danced to. Kisses is an exhilarating and playful ﬁnal offering that allows the audience to catch a glimpse of the sheer joy the dancers have in performing with movements tossed out and away from the body with abandon.
The choreography builds in a blissful array of solos, duets and group interchanges that ﬁnish all to soon.
Sheryl Robinson | The Press
A most joyous celebration of dance, gorgeously called A Million Kisses to My Skin, which had a pace and height almost beyond belief. Fabulous costumes added an extra dimention to the frenzy of lifts and, at times, the whole stage seemed to be leaping with pure joy and spinning with colour.
Amanda Jackson | Hawkes Bay Today
In David Dawson’s A Million Kisses to My Skin, previously performed by the company in 2005, stark lighting added brilliance to swirling movement propelled forward by JS Bach’S concerto. Little could detract from the uplifting nature of this work, which projected a sense of breadth and space. Startling momentary pauses connected dancers with audience in tentative ﬂirtation.
Bronwyn Judge | Listener
We have seen David Dawson’s internationally acclaimed A Million Kisses to My Skin before - and will want again. It sits in this programme as a rich and deeply coloured ﬁnale. Set to Bach’s Concerto No 1 in D minor, Dawson has stated his aim in creating this work wasto make the dancers feel they were in a state of complete bliss. Not just the dancers, Mr Dawson. We all are.
Bernadette Rae | NZ Herald
A Million Kisses to My Skin, choreographed by David Dawson, takes us to a celestial place, to marvel at the glory of these bodies so beautifully trained, so swiftly ricocheting through the air. The speed of their ﬂight, the thrilling whirl of their cascading costumes, make J S Bach seem like a contemporary composer, which of course he is. It is my favourite piece.
Jennifer Shennan | The Dominion Post
The test is Dawson’s knock-out choreography, A Million Kisses to My Skin, ﬁrst performed by the Company in 2005. In this staging, it is the passion vested in the dancers’ performances, which becomes the most exciting element. A modern-day classic, Kisses is performed against a blank canvas of six panels creating a three-sided box shape, so that the vivid splashes of colour of the dancers’ ﬂoating costumes - designed by Yumiko Takeshima.
The box set contains the dancers’ energies and deﬂects them outwards to the audience as they perform a beautiful amalgam of mercurial movements to Bach’s Concerto No.1 in D minor. Dawson’s choreography is sensation-based, as the title suggests, and expores multiple levels - ﬂoating to the heights, skimming across the ﬂoor and darting unexpectedly, with each dancer an effervescent being of their own creation.
Jenny Stevenson | Theaterview
The evening climaxed with David Dawson’s A Million Kisses to my Skin set to Concerto No.1 in D Minor by JS Bach. I saw this work the ﬁrst time the company performed it and once again, loved it. The design throws rich and regal colour across panels that slowly lift as the energy gets more generous and the movement more sumptuous. All the cast seemes totally immersed in this work and their vitality sent those million kisses out into the theatre.
Deirdre Tarrant | Capital Times