Gradually Carlson had the idea of switching the soloist’s role to a male dancer. She was fascinated by Japanese culture and in particular the traditional theatre form of Kabuki. Her idea was inspired by the onnagata figures, the cross-dressed male actors who play women’s roles.
She wanted to find a dancer who could bring a particularly expressive ambivalence to Blue Lady and her choice fell on Tero Saarinen, whose distinctive body and androgynous appearance had first struck her years ago when she was a guest choreographer at the Finnish National Ballet in Helsinki. The two have collaborated many times since. Carlson has among other things created two original solos for Saarinen: Travelling (1998) and Man in a Room (2000).
Through their origins, Carolyn Carlson and Tero Saarinen share a Finnish soul founded on distance from reality, unpredictability and irony. Their distinctive relationship with reality forms an integral part of Blue Lady.
The original inspirations for the piece were Venice and Carolyn Carlson’s entry into motherhood. This event profoundly changed her consciousness of the world and of existence. When the work was in the planning stage, Carolyn Carlson also visited a psychiatric hospital in Venice and was especially affected by the anxiety and suspicion she saw in the eyes of the mentally ill patients.
Tero Saarinen’s interpretation draws heavily on this dimension, as well as on the theme of recollection. In a world shrouded in Venetian melancholy, Tero Saarinen’s movements and body become a vehicle for memories.
Original set design Frédéric Robert
Lighting design (recreation) Peter Vos
Lighting design (original) John Davis, Claude Naville
Costume design (recreation) Chrystel Zingiro
Archive material compilation Baptiste Evrard
Archive materials Claude le-Anh (photos), André Labarthe (film), Charles Picq (film)
Creative Assistant Henri Mayet
Other artistic and technical assistants Larrio Ekson, Valentina Romito, Gilles Nicolas, Fifi, Robert Pereira, Alain Normand
“Each gesture, each finger, each component of [Saarinen’s] body is inhabited by Blue Lady. Thanks to him, this poetic quest into a woman’s life and mind becomes a majestic and revolutionary manifestation of the art of interpretation.”
- Le Figaro (France), 2008
”--- the most spectacular and impressive performance of the festival – if not its whole 40- year history. --- extremely beautiful in every aspect --- Saarinen’s interpretation is incomparable and breathtaking ---”
- Savon Sanomat (Finland), 2009
”(Blue Lady) is a hymn to hope --- The dialog across time could hardly be any more beautiful.”
- Stuttgarter Nachrichten (Germany), 2009
”The audience loves Tero Saarinen and this revisited classic of Carolyn Carlson --- (Saarinen) has a hypnotic grip on the audience --- one of the few rare classics in contemporary dance. --- in Tero Saarinen it has found its perfect interpreter!”
- Helsingin Sanomat (Finland), 2009
”The precise articulation of movement, the emotional charge and the unyielding presence create a density that is hard to resist --- Skill, interpretation and dance rise to monumental dimensions, to their full glory.”
- Helsingin Sanomat (Finland), 2008
”--- lyrical movement --- poetry in detail --- [Saarinen puts] a dense stamp on the original choreography, allowing the spectator to experience a new adventure.”
- Il Manifesto (Italy), 2008
”Blue Lady is certainly the most important solo in Carolyn Carlson’s production --- It is sheer pleasure to see this splendid dancer --- Saarinen masters [the choreography] without transforming it radically, but gives it personal touches.”
- Ballet 2000 (France/Italy), 2008
”One of the key works of modern dance, charged with the intensely emotional expressive power of an exceptional dancer.”
- Bietigheimer Zeitung (Germany), 2009