Stephen Petronio Company at The Barbican

I Drink the Air Before Me by the Stephen Petronio Company was the first dance in the month of Dance Umbrella 2010. The title, inspired by the words of Ariel in reply to Prospero in The Tempest, hints at the ferocious speed, verging on mania that the dance creates. As the audience take their seats the dancers dressed in coats and long johns are on stage with a ballet bar warming up. Petronio wandering around the theatre muttering, dressed as an old salty sea dog: sou’wester, fake beard, wig and big boots (designed by Cindy Sherman). On stage too were a small orchestra and at a grand piano, Petronio’s collaborator in this production, composer Nico Muhly. Ropes are strung across the front of the stage to the circle (relieved I’m sitting stage right so not in my eye line).

Petronio 1 Petronio2

Petronio 4 Petronio 6

As the music begins and the dancers move the audience are transported to the sea: dangerous, deep, wind lashing, out of control, man-over-board sea.

Petronio 6

A children’s choir sing at the beginning and at the end.

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