The Evil Imp

If Wheeldon Wobbles Will He Fall Down?


Christopher Wheeldon, the current poster boy of ballet, will be launching his company, Morphoses, in London this week at Sadlers Wells Theatre.

For the last few months barely a word has been written about the wonder boy choreographer that has not been unrelentingly fawning. Were the press to be believed this is the second coming of dance and it’s going to spectacular.

His company is unique, sort of, in that it will exist in two cities, New York and the aforementioned London and that’s where the uniqueness stops dead in its tracks. If we’re calling that unique then we know many dance makers that are based in about 45 cities around the world all at the same time!

As far as his choreographic skills are concerned we can’t comment because we have never seen his work. New York City Ballet don’t tour to Europe all that often. If we were betting folks though we would put good money on Jasmin Vardimon kicking his arse!

The apparent financial hurdles of this endeavour have yet to be overcome but Mr Wheeldon appears confident.

Media attention of a dancer/choreographer on such a scale is unusual. In so far as regular colums in leading newspapers can be considered “media attention”. In the contemporary dance world we don’t really have “stars” so we all look on and wonder what the fuss is about.

On this side of the pond Sadlers Wells Theatre along with its AD Alistair Spalding is betting that Morphoses will be a big success. How that success is gauged, whether by reviews, audience numbers or column inches of fanboy comments remains to be seen. Just how much money they are putting up for this is not clear.

You get the feeling with Morphoses that whatever the reaction to the work or how the ticket sales go, so many reputations are on the line that no matter what, the story being told will be one viewed through rose tinted glasses.

If this company doesn’t work practically, financially or artistically there will be so much egg on so many faces the world’s largest omelette will be on the cards. Here in TheLab™ we have a sneaky suspicion that a lot of people have a vested interest in not letting that happen.

The whole thing is starting to smell a lot like Mathew Bourne’s endeavours with Adventures in Motion Pictures (AMP), which he is no longer a part of, and the unrelentingly mundane ‘Swan Lake’ productions that have spread around the world faster than George Bush can get in and out of Iraq (six hours if you’re wondering! Ed!)

Mr Wheeldon is playing it smart for now. A recent interview in The Times quotes him as saying that the company will take “six or seven years” to really happen. Just in time for the Olympics to come and go. One white elephant leaves, another one emerges!