“If we cannot hug, then we shall dance.”
This could well have been the other title of John Neumeier's new dance highlight, staged by the Hamburg Ballet.
Using the pandemic’s restrictions to his advantage, the American director has structured an inventive show around social distancing. His creative choreography allows his 60 dancers to perform to Franz Schubert’s piano chords - but not touch each other, except for some pas de deux, salvaged by real-life couples. Ghost Light is a modest, but moving ballet - born from the need of the choreographer and his dancers to continue dancing in a time of limitations. It transcribes in a very tangible way, the eternal human longing for connection.
The catchy title draws on an old theatrical tradition that’s been given a poignant new context. The Ghost Light is a lamp placed in the middle of the stage after the show. As long as it’s lit, the stage belongs to the theatre’s ghost and - as superstition has it - can’t be used. Many theatres throughout the world have kept their “ghost light” lit during the pandemic, as a promise that they would open again.
Until that happy day arrives in Athens, we’ll have to be content with catching this heartfelt dance drama on-line. It will be streamed on demand for three days in mid-May by the Christmas Theatre (don’t let the name confuse you: this year-round hub hosts a broad bill of big draw international acts ranging from classical entertainment to pop culture hits and the utterly random).