Van Dijk’s and Nyen’s exploration of clouds, stability and transience is perhaps most tangible in a brief scene during which a dancer perches himself atop the framed pane of glass and appears to be levitating. Meanwhile, centre stage, two females execute highly physical phrases of movement in unison. The choreography could be described as typical of van Dijk’s artistic practice: in contrast to the illusion of weightlessness beside them, one of each dancer’s feet is always firmly planted on the floor. They use gravity as a productive force, rather than fight against it (as ballet dancers would) to achieve an appearance of lightness.
Lucy Guerin’s latest dance drama offers a tragic take on the consequences of disobedience
The performance commences unannounced when a mob of ominous cloaked figures enter the performance space in darkness then wander on the periphery of a well-lit circle at its centre. As the ‘dark chorus’ of extras endlessly shuffles along its circular path, five featured performers – dancers Benjamin Hancock, Stephanie Lake, Jessie Oshodi, Tyrone Robinson and Lilian Steiner – emerge from the pack in flashes of movement and speech, gesturing abstractly and reciting a hushed text in unison. The atmosphere is arresting, compounded by Robin Fox’s droning score; it’s as if we’re privy to some kind of cult ritual.
Under the direction of choreographer and dramaturg duo, Banse & Ouwens, four performers – three dancers and a musician – put forth an off-kilter, imagined, fragile world in which the performers take turns testing their faith in each other, physics, and nature. The deeper I go commences with the dancers in a huddle, shaking uncontrollably, an act that appears more menacing than usual somatic dance practices on account of psychedelic, hybrid animal masks concealing their identities. Various constellations are experimented with, for example, a dancer bumps about apathetically like a pin ball, or violently tugs at their neighbour’s arm. Stefan Kirchhoff’s pounding electronic soundscape reflects the frustration and exasperation expressed through the choreographic element of these opening moments. As the sound subdues the performers are left breathless and croaking, only to be resurrected without their animal masks, thus revealing a perplexed, enquiring gaze, and a movement quality transposed from a vertigo patient.
Kosmos presents a dystopic view of urban life, featuring a mass of dancers in black suits executing regimental movement phrases at a panicked speed. The choreography is set to a relentless, percussive and cinematic score by Julien Tarride. Overall the work showcases Foniadakis’s ability to work with large ensembles and spaces to good visual effect, directing the audience’s gaze as he pleases in the midst of (intentional) chaos. This is particularly evident early on when Caserta’s and Jeremy Coachman’s heart pounding, yet short-lived, solos benefit from Foniadakis’s choreographic restraint.
As the work develops the attractive sleekness of movement and costuming is progressively lost in favour of camp and dramaturgical platitudes. The dancers remove items of clothing, effecting a transformation from androgyny to topless men, and women in Madonna-esque braziers and corsets, paired with increasingly embellished choreography (i.e. hair whipping and frantic port de bras). This fed into a scene that borrows heavily from African(ist) dance vocabularies, the rhythms of bongo drums strengthening a supposed association with “primality”. At the conclusion of the work a next to naked “return to nature” completes the dramaturgical arc; the lights are dimmed, music subsides and the dancers bodies, arranged in symmetrical tableaus, are illuminated by nothing more than a projection of the night sky.
– LUKE AARON FORBES
Excerpt of an article published by Dance Europe, Issue 203, February 2016. Purchase the entire issue here: http://www.danceeurope.net/store/issue-203
The Ballett Dortmund continues to raise its artistic profile by riding on the coattails of international dance personalities. Whether playing host to international ballet galas or engaging choreographer Benjamin Millepied – whose market value has rocketed since he met Natalie Portman – the company is keen to shake off any hint of its provincial roots. Alas, as I overheard one guest remark with regard to the French choreographer, “What’s in a name? I wouldn’t necessarily look any better if I threw on a Dior suit!” And indeed, a public profile is no guarantee of quality, despite facilitating a successful marketing campaign. It’s a clever strategy, although on this occasion it didn’t result in a presentation representative of the world’s cultural centres. Continue reading Der Nussknacker – Benjamin Millepied (Ballett Dortmund)
The programme was well-received by the festival audience, that was likely also attending other events such as circus acts and Japanese drumming spectacles. Although this kind of festival context wouldn’t allow for a critical framing of Béjart’s works, from a dance-goers perspective the failure to openly address more dated and (to an extent) discredited elements — for example, camp, melodrama, gestures pregnant with ‘meaning’, and armchair anthropology — detracted from more positive aspects […] On the contrary, rather than marketing Béjart as a “ballet sorcerer” and “genius,” as was the case in Cologne, it might be more appropriate to celebrate him (and his contemporaries, such as Roland Petit and George Balanchine) for having opened up the ballet stage to unfamiliar choreographic and thematic content. In Béjart’s case, this included pop culture, fashion, sexuality, spirituality, grotesque etc. With the exception of a few key Béjart works, this may not be the most innovative choreography the ballet world has to offer now, but it certainly represents a rupture of sorts in a culture of classical ballet that was once dominated by quaint narrative works and sparse, abstract choreography.
– LUKE AARON FORBES
Excerpt of an article published by Dance Europe, Issue 199, October 2015. Purchase the entire issue here: http://www.danceeurope.net/store/issue-199
[Young Soon] Hue’s Illusion remained true to neoclassical conventions, communicating an abstract narrative by means of expressive gestures and a movement vocabulary that was predominantly a variation on classical forms. Dancer Yuko Kato, who features throughout, opened the evening in a brief solo performed with quiet precision, lit by a spotlight. A male solo followed, also dancing in the confines of a spot, emphasising the estrangement of the two lead figures. Contrasting the simplicity of these opening moments, the continuation of the work is dominated by group scenes, 25 dancers strong, performed largely in unison.
The numerous chapters of the work represent various ‘worlds’, supposedly shifting back and forth between reality and the past/dreams/the surreal. In depicting these differing worlds, the dynamic of Hue’s choreography remains largely unaffected. Instead, these developments are visible in numerous costume changes; pointe shoes are put on and removed, female dancers exchange green dresses for blue ones, men remove their shirts, or put on a skirt, etc.
– LUKE AARON FORBES
Excerpt of an article published by Dance Europe, Issue 197, July 2015. Purchase the entire issue here: http://www.danceeurope.net/store/issue-197
Idiot-Syncrasy’s creators, Igor Urzelai and Moreno Solinas, stand centre stage and observe the audience before breaking into song. The performers build up to a crescendo with their heels marking the beat, accumulating energy until they begin to bounce, in unison, making their way through the space. Igor and Moreno do not employ this repetitive bounce motif to achieve a transformative state, instead it takes a backseat to their informal and fleeting encounters with individual spectators. Continue reading Idiot-Syncrasy – Igor and Moreno
Mia Habib’s work, Mono, performed by Kompani Haugesund, lives up to its title. The stage and costume designs are uniformly pale blue and appear comically sterile, perhaps staving off a viral outbreak. Covered from head to toe, eyes included, in blue lycra jumpsuits, the dancers blend into their surroundings and are shut off from the world around them. The live music element recalls garage bands from analogue days, a rare example of a very human hand in the performance, contrasting the individual creatures on stage who are largely unempathetic, apathetic, sporadically aggressive loners. Continue reading MONO – Kompani Haugesund / Mia Habib