Thursday, December 10, 2009


Sometimes you catch something on TV, usually late in the evening, which is quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. About 10 years ago I caught a programme on what was later to become the Sky Arts channel.

Now I am quite a fan of the ballet. For many years, we were Subscription Members of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, making several trips each year up to the Hippodrome in Birmingham to see them dance. It was always an excellent evening, and sometimes an amazing one. When people hear that you’re a fan, they sometimes look at you a bit sideways, as if there is a slightly disturbing side to you they didn’t know before.

There’s nothing like that actually. I just love the simplicity of the medium, the power and the gracefulness of the dancers, the wit and inventiveness of the choreography, the beauty of what’s played out in front of you, and the way an enormous range of emotions can be evoked simply by a movement or a glance.

So, back to the TV. It was a ballet programme, and I recorded it to watch later. The title of the piece was “Rooster”, and it turned out to be a ballet set to 7 or 8 Rolling Stones songs. It starts out with a guy – the Rooster – who is quite simply a chicken in a suit. He moves and struts around JUST like a Rooster, and you can’t take your eyes off the way he simply becomes the animal. The ballet is actually all about the battle of the sexes, and there is some amazing choreography in it.
I’ve lost the video now, and have often looked around to see if anyone ever put out a DVD of the film I had recorded. They haven’t, so until this evening I’ve had to rely on my memory to replay in my mind.

Typing “rooster” into Youtube, which rather pathetically had not occurred to me for 10 years, threw up this clip. It’s the first 8 minutes or so of the 25 minute performance. The sound on it is none too good, but that's the early Stones for you. You may think I’m turning a bit odd when you look at it, but I think it’s a tremendous piece of work, and as an introduction to modern ballet for people who would never be seen anywhere near one, it’s a great start.

All we need to do is get the company who danced it (I think they were Dutch) to search through their archives, and make a DVD of it, and I will be a slightly happier man for the rest of my life.

Anyway, give it a go, let go of your prejudices, and when you’ve seen it, tell me you didn’t like it. Just a little bit anyway.




Whitenoise said...


Anonymous said...

I saw the ballet years ago followed by another one to Bob Dylan tunes performed by older dancers. I also recorded it from that programme then someone wiped it and I've been searching for it ever since - I loved it!! Finally today I've found it on Youtube. I'm so happy!!