Martin Creed (b. 1968)
Ballet [Work No. 1020] (2013)
Martin Creed choreographs a piece for classically trained dancers featuring live music. Using video and music composed by Creed and played by his band, Work No. 1020 is performed by five dancers who are restricted to using the five core classical ballet positions, each of which are ascribed a musical note. By limiting the dancers to the five positions, Creed establishes a tight framework in which to examine the changing effects of time, speed, and direction.
Most ballet is not very funny. But by using just the five basic positions of ballet, Martin Creed — better known for his art than his choreographic skills — offers a playful and engaging 70 minutes of repetitions where the limitations actually become the springboard of creativity. It's a bit like watching a giggly game of chess or perhaps a game of Scrabble created with the human body, which has been intercut with a bit of chat from Creed, some video (including some of Creed's more notorious vomiting and defecating films) and some songs played by Creed and a band, who limit their musical palate just as the dancers' physical movement is limited.
At one point Creed plays a song mischievously entitled What's the Point? – something audiences may want to ask too. The trick here is to go with the flow, and enter into the spirit of a piece which often seems to have used Sesame Street's letter-and-word songs as its model. What becomes gradually apparent is that there are distinct patterns emerging from the chaos, plus there is some great footage of Creed's dogs, which might seem incidental but pointedly shows up the differences in the way animals walk. Best not to rise to the bait and get upset when Creed launches into a ditty called Fuck Off or offers a movie of his rising and deflating penis, which looks like one of those David Attenborough natural history films. This is too slight and self-consciously jokey to feel really meaningful, but its gleeful structured shambles has its place on the structured shambles of the fringe.
Martin Creed in UbuWeb Sound