Of all the dances I’ve seen inspired by the hypnotic crescendo of Ravel’s Bolero, this is the most interesting. It used familiar music in a new way, exploring just about everything that could be done with a movable wooden wall and nine dancers.
Our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness, provided the madness is given us by divine gift.
Johan Inger created Walking Mad for Nederlands Dans Theater I in 2001, when some young choreographers were asked to create a new dance piece for the evening performance with symphony orchestra. Inger was captivated by an old black and white TV recording of Boléro, conducted by Zubin Mehta and performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Inger explained his particular partiality toward the piece: «The famous Bolero from Ravel with its sexual, almost kitschy history was the trigger point to make my own version. I quickly decided that it was going to be about relationships in different forms and circumstances. I came up with the idea of a wall that could transform the space during this minimalistic music and create small pockets of space and situations. Walking Mad is a journey, in which we encounter our fears, our longings and the lightness of being." The wall in Walking Mad is minimalistic, as the music represents an early musical minimalism. It divides the work into different rooms and is a reality that different characters relate to. Something happens on the journey during the piece: the protagonist multiplies himself during his meetings with different women, who are also seeking someone. The women, like himself, eventually return to their respective frames, perhaps just a bit older and somewhat greyer.
World Premiere: May 14, 2001, Den Haag (Nederlands Dans Theater I)
Premiere in Maribor: March, 2017, Grand hall
Duration: 30 minutes