THE MOOR’S PAVANE
The Moor’s Pavane ballet (pavane – an ancient Italian dance), since long ago acknowledged as a modern dance masterpiece, has been presented in the USA and other countries abroad by Jose Limon’s company, and later added to repertoires of many other companies. The ballet’s subheader, “Variations on the theme of Othello”, assumes that the viewer is familiar with Shakespeare’s tragedy. All secondary plotlines are removed from this ballet; the magnificent quartet of the four protagonists – Othello, Desdemona, Iago and Emilia, renamed to the Moor, his Wife, the Moor’s Friend, and the Friend’s Wife – perform dances of love and friendship, seething jealousy and treachery, death and denunciation… The choreographer’s task was not to precisely translate the words of the play into movement, but to convey their intrinsic meaning by expressive means, using only the essential plot of the tragedy. The same way Shakespeare turns words into poetry, the choreographer turns movements into a dance. The eternal themes of art are found in the “neoclassical” dance style of unusually sharp poses and sleek soft movements. Instead of feelings of hopelessness and tragedy, this ballet evokes a feeling of light sadness, summoning a catharsis – “purification through compassion”.