Labyrinth of Love

At the heart of the Labyrinth of Love 2012/13 Tour was Marguerite Donlon’s powerful and magical Labyrinth of Love, with designs by one of Britain’s leading visual artists, Mat Collishaw, and set and costume designer Conor Murphy.

Glimpses of love’s ups and downs tangle and untangle in the magical and surreal world of a many-faceted labyrinth. Marguerite Donlon’s choreography captures not only the romantic moments of love but its humour and surprise.

Dancers: Miguel Altunaga, Lucia Barbadillo, Eryck Brahmania, Otis-Cameron Carr, Antonette Dayrit, Julia Gillespie, Robin Gladwin, Dane Hurst, Estela Merlos, Mbulelo Ndabeni, Adam Park, Hannah Rudd, Jon Savage, Stephen Wright. Soprano: Sarah Gabriel (& Kirsty Hopkins).

'[Donlon] turns out to be a dab hand at the kind of clean classical/modern vocab that Rambert excels in. '

Evening Standard

Marguerite Donlon
Labyrinth of Love (2012) by Michael Daugherty
Visual imagery:
Mat Collishaw
Set & costumes:
Conor Murphy
Lighting design:
Charles Balfour

Labyrinth of Love had its world première at the The Lowry, Salford on Wednesday 10 October 2012.

Behind the scenes of the creation of Labyrinth of Love.

Love poetry and prose

The poetic score, by Grammy award-winning composer Michael Daugherty is also called Labyrinth of Love and was sung live at every performance. The movements are inspired by poems, prose, and the lives of eight women spanning over 2000 years.

The world premiere performance of Labyrinth of Love by Present Music, conducted by Kevin Stalheim, with Jennifer Goltz, soprano, was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 15 June 2012. Michael Daugherty talked with Present Music’s artistic director, Kevin Stalheim on 14 June 2012.

‘The texts I have selected, and the musical landscape I have created, is full of bitterness, desire, longing, ecstasy, irony, tenderness, despair, hope, sadness and humour.'

Michael Daugherty

Marguerite Donlon uses seven of the score's eight movements in her choreography:

I. In This Strange Labyrinth Lady Mary Wroth (1587 – 1653; British)

In this strange labyrinth how shall I turn?
Ways are on all sides, while the way I miss:
If to the right hand, there in love I burn;
Let me go forward, therein danger is;’

If to the left, suspicion hinders bliss,
Let me turn back, Shame cries I ought to return,
Nor faint though crosses with my fortunes kiss;
Stand still is harder, although sure to mourn.

Then let me take the right- or left-hand way;
Go forward, or stand still, or back retire;
I must these doubts endure without allay
Or help, but travail find for my best hire.

Yet that which most my troubled sense doth move
Is to leave all, and take the thread of love.

II. Eros SAPPHO 47 Sappho (612 BC – 570 BC?; Greek) Translated by Yopie Prins

has my
uprooted wits
has my
as if it’s
a wind a wind
a whirling
wind whipping
wild wild
whipping wild
wild trees
uprooted trees
wild trees

III. Sonnets from the Portuguese, XIII Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861; British)

And wilt thou have me fashion into speech
The love I bear thee, finding words enough,
And hold the torch out, while the winds are rough,
Between our faces, to cast light upon each?

I drop it at thy feet. I cannot teach
My hand to hold my spirit so far off
From myself.. me.. that I should bring thee proof,
In words of love hid in me… out of reach.

Nay, let the silence of my womanhood
Commend my woman-love to thy belief,
Seeing that I stand unwon (however wooed)
And rend the garment of my life in brief

By a most dauntless, voiceless fortitude,
Lest one touch of this heart convey its grief

IV. If I may have it when it’s dead Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886; American)

If I may have it when it’s dead
I will contented be;
If just as soon as breath is out
It shall belong to me,

Until they lock it in the grave,
‘T is bliss I cannot weigh,
For though they lock thee in the grave,
Myself can hold the key.

Think of it, lover! I and thee
Permitted face to face to be;
After a life, a death we’ll say, —
For death was that, and this is thee.

V. On the Difficulty of Loving an Invisible God (Traigo conmigo un cuidado) Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651 – 1695; Mexican)

(Traigo conmigo un cuidado)

I recall—were it not so—
a time when the love I knew
went far beyond madness even,
reached excesses known to few,

but being a bastard love,
built on warring tensions,
it simply fell apart
from its own dissensions.

But oh, being now directed
to the goal true lovers know,
through virtue and reason alone
it must stronger and stronger grow.

Therefore one might inquire
why it is I still languish.
My troubled heart would make reply:
what makes my joy makes my anguish.

Yes, from human weakness,
in the midst of purest affection,
we still remain a prey
to natural dejection.

To see our love returned
is so insistent a craving
that even when out of place,
we still find it enslaving.

It means nothing in this instance
that my love be reciprocated;
yet no matter how hard I try,
the need persists unabated.

If this is a sin, I confess it,
if a crime, I must avow it;
the one thing I cannot do
is repent and disallow it….

VI. Liz’s Lament Elizabeth Taylor (1932 – 2011; American)

Liz and Richard
The most talked about
the most read about
the most famous couple in the entire world

I see myself being handed from man to man
As if I were an amusement
I don’t think it’s possible
to really love a woman like me

Richard and Liz

I have wasted so many words on so many men
How strangely awake I feel
But tonight I will begin a dream of my own
which will never end

Richard and Liz

The Sandpipers
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe
The VIPs
The Comedians
The Taming of the Shrew

There is only one man in my whole life who has made me happy
Richard….my husband….my ex-husband….
I can’t remember which
who is somewhere out there in the dark
Richard and Liz

VIII. Short Talk on the Sensation of Aeroplane Takeoff Anne Carson (b. 1950; Canadian)

Well you know that
could be true love
running towards my
life with its arms up
yelling Let’s buy it!
What a bargain!

Marguerite Donlon (c) Maria-Helena Buckley edited to B&WMarguerite Donlon

Marguerite Donlon was born in County Longford, Republic of Ireland. After a childhood of traditional Irish dance, Marguerite began her ballet studies with Anica Dawson and Dorothy Stevens at the late age of 16. She became a solo dancer and choreographer with the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1990; before that she was a member of the English National Ballet under Peter Schaufuss.

In 2001, Marguerite Donlon was appointed director of the ballet of the Saarländisches Staatstheater. With the Donlon Dance Company, she has since formed a well-respected and highly demanded artistic ensemble guesting all over Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, USA, Ireland and South Korea. Nominations for the “Prix Benois de la Danse” 2007 and for the German Theater Award “Der Faust” 2007 testify to that.

Complementary to her work as director and choreographer in Saarbrücken, Marguerite Donlon increasingly made her mark with productions on the German and international ballet scene. She has been creating for numerous renowned ballet companies worldwide, amongst them the Vienna State Opera Ballet, the Nederlands Dans Theater II, the Stuttgart Ballet, the Ballet of the Komische Oper Berlin, the Companhia Nacional de Bailado, the Hubbard Street Dance Company, Chicago and the Korean National Opera.

'Truly exquisite.'

Guide to Brighton

'The audience ate it up with a spoon.'

Sunday Telegraph

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