Pablo Bronstein

Pablo Bronstein brings to life his idea of what a dancing museum could be

Pablo Bronstein Bust of Rousseau with two Sprezzatura hands

Pablo Bronstein
Bust of Rousseau with two Sprezzatura hands 2013
© Pablo Bronstein 
 Courtesy Herald St, London 

The exterior of the museum is redressed in a ponderous Edwardian style. The large undivided walls of the Bankside Power Station now horizontally subdivided into grandly proportioned storeys. Each storey is articulated with a row of niches, wrapping their way round the whole exterior, and ascending chronologically in Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Art Nouveau and finally Art Deco styles. Corresponding to these niches are statuettes of dancers in period costume, in readily identifiable poses of the period. The Egyptian dancers in Egyptian poses, the Greek dancers in Greek poses and so on up the wall. Atop Gilbert Scott’s chimneystack, a vast androgynous verdigris bronze figure named ‘The Spirit of Dance’ holding aloft the huge face of a clock in the direction of the Thames.

The Turbine Hall, whose walls are now draped in a heavy, musty, burgundy velvet, is a forest of life-size marble statues representing defining moments in the history of dance. Realistic figurative sculptures depicting in great detail famous dancers in their moment of greatest triumph. Salome, nubile and finely carved, dances for the head of John the Baptist. Her thin marble waist enriched by a gold-leafed bronze belt inset with green jadeite in the Symbolist style. Severe and triumphant Electra, in granite, dances herself, flat-footed, to a victorious death over her father’s tomb. King Louis XIV in his celebrated role as the Sun God, balancing in fourth position on finely chiseled calf muscles, a sunburst mask on his face. Marie Camargo in the act of ripping the cumbersome heels from her 18th century slippers. Barbara Campanini, piquant as Zelaire the Gipsy flower seller, frozen in bronze whilst throwing flowers at the audience, her many-layered Gipsy dress a riot. Marie Taglioni, in a moment of inspired brilliance, pushing up onto pointe for the first time as La Sylphide, her slender carved foot accurately pinned to the floor- a wild look in her eyes. Anna Pavlova, a magnificently corpulent 50 year old, her underarms in solid bronze, undulating to perfection as the dying swan. Isadora Duncan, hand momentarily rested on an antique column fragment, about to step out in barefoot reverie onto the floor of the Parthenon. A large sculpted group of Diaghilev, with marble eye peering through marble monocle at a drunk and half naked Nijinsky, rolling on the floor, buttocks exposed. A bronze portrait bust of Balanchine stares straight ahead, expertly representing the creative process. Baryshnikov is captured mid-leap as Don Quixote, a marble tree stump thrusting up and holding him aloft by his marble crotch. And Trisha Brown, walks down a building, wall and dancer carved entirely out of a single block of travertine marble.