Hands in the Clouds (2001)

Duration: 8’
For live Korg X3 synth and pre-recorded track
Choreographed by Antonio Castilla
Lighting Design: Kieron Doherty
First performed at the Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford as part of the 2001 annual Ballet Central tour.

In the four years that he was artistic co-ordinator for Ballet Central, Antonio Castilla developed a fruitful artistic collaboration with composer-in-residence and musical director, Philip Feeney. Hands in the Clouds was the first piece, that they created in tandem. Originally devised as a competition solo for dancer, Hikota Taira, which was based on movements to be found in Tai Chi, it grew into a piece in four sections with a very clear Eastern, more specifically, Japanese influence. Exploiting sounds from the Korg X3 synth, especially a convincing koto patch, and employing an engaging minimalist, repetitive rhythmic style, the score succeeds in creating a sense of space, and a sense of ritual clearly suggested by the choreographer’s title.

The second section, a fast and dangerous motoric solo for a dancer in red, also came to be used as a successful and effective competition solo. But its driving power is the exception in this piece, since for the most part there is a serene almost ceremonial quality to this music; towards the end the final pas de deux, the opening rhythmic pattern gradually reappears underneath the music of the duet, slowly but surely completing the circle, and bringing us back to the sense of peace with which the work began.

photo: Bill Cooper, courtesy of Ballet Central