Alas (Wings) is a dramatic exploration of humankind's need to feel alive through experiencing emotional, sensual and spiritual needs. The highly-acclaimed Spanish choreographer/dancer introduces himself to us after climbing down a tall, illuminated, frosted-glass-like tower in the middle of the stage. As he descends, Duato and his audience become voyeurs, watching couples intimately convey their love through a range of classical ballet and contemporary dance steps. In several dance movements, Duato appears, disappears and lies in the foetal position on stage, until the spotlight shines on him and he speaks to us again. In re-discovering his humanity, he takes off his jacket to bare his human flesh. He slowly sheds his immortality through different dances including one where Duato's stage turns in to a scene from a nightclub. By the end, Duato appears free, like a bird with wings of his own that will take him in to the next chapter of his life journey.
(Shoba Rao, The Daily Telegraph, January 16, 2008)
Alas is an exceedingly beautiful production with lavish costumes, masterful lighting and many moments of choreographic magic. The quiet poetry of the film is replaced with pathos and grand gesturing. The beauty it so successfully conjures is not undercut by the bleakness and the laconic theme of hope in the face of adversity so evident in the film. Alas, in fact, comes across as a blatant, almost hedonistic celebration of beauty alone and ultimately has a hollow ring to it. It still makes for a spectacular dance experience.
( RealTime issue #83 Feb-March 2008 )
Nacho Duato is currently one of the world's foremost contemporary dance choreographers, and it was a great thrill to have some of his works being performed at the Sydney Festival. It was an even greater treat to have the master himself dance in this work. He defied his age with his agility, but his depth of expression showed the gift of maturity and experience that he brought to the stage. The Jiri Kylian influence was definitely seen within the Choreography, with the accentuation of long limbs, beautiful feet, femininity in the costumes that the women wore, and the strength of the partner work. The setting was very well done. There was a see-through plastic scaffolding tower, by which all either descended or ascended to heaven, and lighting was used to its fullest to compliment the work. My favourite part of the whole piece was the end scene. Water was poured over the lead (Duato), and it filled the floor. The dancers all entered the stage and gradually made their descent to ‘heaven’, whilst Damien remained behind as finally mortal. It was really lovely how in the splashes, every droplet was seen as the lighting reflected off it perfectly. It was such a beautiful end to the work.
(Dance informa, 2008 )
The ballet is based on Wim Wenders's 1987 film Wings of Desire, literally translated from the German as The Sky Over Berlin. The co-screenwriter is Peter Handke, and Pandur assembled the dance's text from fragments of the film script; he and Duato designed the sets. The choreographer dance a central role, reciting a series of monologues. In the piece, Duato says, "two angels come to earth. One falls in love with a human. At the end he becomes a man, finds love." The score is a collage: Arvo Part, Jules Massenet, Pawel Szymanski and F..khead. Two Spanish composers, Pedro Alcalde and Sergio Caballero, made music for this: water, sounds of water and papers; electronic music. "The angel goes to a library: he can hear everybody's thoughts and knows what everybody's reading. He hears voices. We dance to that." Duato's long-time American lighting designer Brad Fields provides exquisite effects. Duato is a savvy artist who knows how to work a crowd.