The Merel Quartet Is a Young Swiss Ensemble on the Rise
This well-placed foursome is finding its wings and making a name for itself
The long black curtain unfurls behind a lone dancer, who is soon joined by other dancers—the women are dressed in one-piece costumes, the men bare-chested and wearing samurai-like black skirts. They stride across the unadorned stage at the Lucerne Theater in Switzerland. So far, it’s a typical contemporary dance show. Less typical is the music they’re dancing to: Bartók’s impassioned Fourth Quartet, played live on this evening by the Merel Quartet, which is based in Zurich but boasts an international lineup.
The Merel’s first violinist, an American named Mary Ellen Woodside, says afterward that these ten performances mark the quartet’s first collaboration with dancers. It’s also the first time these dancers have worked with live music.
“We started rehearsals before the choreography was finished, which I think influenced a lot of the choreography,” she says.
“Choreographer Oliver Dähler, who also is a violinist, listened to us play through the entire piece and then he finished the choreography.”
The other American in the quartet, second violinist Meesun Hong, recalls that Dähler had suggestions about the character of the piece. In the second movement, he told us that in the dance, people are competing, she says. That helped us play off each other more.
In that movement, the dancers divide themselves by gender in a mock battle.