Satisfaction

Published April 17, 2008

Curiosity propelled me to the first night of Satisfaction. Brought into the Apollo for a two-week slot prior to the September opening of Glengarry Glen Ross, this ‘dance concert’, as it is billed, was always going to be an unusual offering for the West End. But what, exactly, is it? How do a Danish choreographer, a bunch of Rolling Stones songs and a London playhouse fit together? That was what Angela Rippon, a few aging rockers, the rest of the audience and I were hoping to find out…

Peter Schaufuss has done this kind of thing before. The esteemed choreographer, who has worked with some of the world’s greatest ballet companies, including English National Ballet, has fashioned a bit of a niche for himself by creating, with his own dance company in Denmark, a set of ballets choreographed to the music of acts from his formative years. There is She Loves You, a dance using the music of The Beatles, and Michael – I’m Bad, set to the pop ditties of – yes you guessed it – Michael Jackson. Now, Schaufuss has delved into his record collection and fished out the back catalogue of The Rolling Stones.

Unlike juke-box musicals like Mamma Mia! and We Will Rock You, or the short-lived Billy Joel dance show Movin’ Out, Satisfaction does not create a narrative which connects the tracks together. More, it is a collection of individual dances set to a backing track of original Stones songs.

Schaufuss has extracted from those songs a bizarre and eclectic imagery that puts his dancers in all sorts of wacky guises. We have spiky-haired devils, angels with wings, knee-pads and metal bras, tormented souls and petite jumping beans. It is impossible to describe exactly what is going on in Schaufuss’s world, but it is, to say the least, something you won’t see every day.

The ‘story’ of each song works best in the duets, choreographed to numbers like Angie and Ruby Tuesday, where the love story is easier to decipher. In others – Sympathy For The Devil, Paint It Black, Red Rooster – it is left to your imagination to work out the narrative. Of the ensemble dances, Wild Horses and Streets Of Love stand out, with the tall and perfectly sculpted Caroline Petter acting as the centre-piece.

The second act uses lesser known Stones tracks (at least, to those who weren’t there first time around). Mona (which I, for one, could have sworn was a Craig McLachlan original) becomes a chain-gang style dance, leading to a solo spot for each dancer and the chance of show off their screaming skills, the relevance of which is hard to fathom. The whole thing ends cheerily with the hand-clapping classic Like A Rolling Stone, and the appropriate encore I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction).

So what is Satisfaction? Perhaps Angela Rippon worked it out…

Satisfaction plays until 8 September. .

CB