Dance has long been linked with the church, if not so much in recent times.
Furthermore, the full majesty of the Chapter House is only revealed when it is stripped of chairs and brought to life. Nor can Bach's suites for unaccompanied cello sound any more ethereal than in its spacious acoustic.
On all three counts it was imaginative of choreographer Jacky Lansley, her seven dancers and cellist Audrey Riley, to choose this venue for Guest Suites – and an enlightened gesture by the Dean & Chapter to allow them to do so.
With the audience confined to the outer edges of this octagon, the dancers were left free to explore the space. Like all Baroque suites, Bach's are an assemblage of dances. Taking the 18 dances of his first three suites, Lansley explored their physical implications rather than the original dance-steps.
Here she was helped on her way by Jonathan Eato’s “suite inserts”, themselves re-readings of Bach that cleverly dissected four movements and underlined just how edgy the originals were.
Further recorded extracts of Pablo Casals, while justifiable as homage, were a distraction – and a disservice to Riley’s superb artistry. Her opening to the third suite, without dance, drew spontaneous applause.
The dancers glided sinuously, with only occasional leaps, even luring audience members into one. Hannah Mi's exotic parody of belly dance and Fergus Early’s besuited onlooker caught the eye, but the main corps were riveting in their commitment and energy.