EXCERPT // Mono Lisa – Itzik Galili/Kosmos – Andonis Foniadakis/Harry – Barak Marshall (Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal)

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

EXCERPT // Moving Meetings Dance/Dutch Dance Festival

[…] at Moving Meetings Dance artists were invited to sell themselves and their work to a large and influential live audience without having the chance to perform much, if any, choreography at all. Pitches were made with one eye on a ticking clock; most artists used the time to present a video clip and simultaneously narrate the images on screen. One choreographer underlined his affordability. Wordless Dario Tortorelli had his audience put on sunglasses as he strutted slow motion out of the room with the hope we might feel almost as suave as his on-stage alter ego, Romeo Heart, looks. The pitches were complemented by an additional programme of young choreographers who were given the enviable chance to stage part of a work in a studio theatre.

– LUKE AARON FORBES

Excerpt of an article published by Dance Europe, Issue 200, Novermber 2015. Purchase the entire issue here: http://www.danceeurope.net/store/issue-200-0

EXCERPT // Mixed Bill – Maurice Béjart & Gil Roman (Béjart Ballet Lausanne)

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

EXCERPT // Repetitors – Jason Fowler & Antoine Vereecken

In an interview available on the New York City Ballet’s YouTube channel, Wheeldon paraphrases George Balanchine in the course of describing his own creative processes: “make no fuss, just make a ballet. Don’t worry about it too much as you’re doing it, but just make dance, and get better because you make a lot of dance”. He continues, with an equally nonchalant flair, “we’ve got three weeks, let’s make a ballet”. With so little time, one can presume that the choreography develops in a way which emphasises the dancers’ own strengths, particularly as they wouldn’t have much time to fine tune their interpretations working under such hectic conditions. As a result, Wheeldon’s repetitor, Jason Fowler, a former NYCB dancer, is left with the challenge of reproducing works that emerged quite instinctively and spontaneously.

– LUKE AARON FORBES

Excerpt of an article published by Dance Europe, Issue 198, August/Septmeber 2015. Purchase the entire issue here: http://www.danceeurope.net/store/issue-198

 

EXCERPT // b.24 – Young Soon Hue, Marco Goecke & Amanda Miller (Ballett am Rhein)

[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

EXCERPT // Der Tod und die Malerin – Bridget Breiner (Ballett im Revier)

Breiner’s creative decisions in the second act can only be described as gutsy. On the one hand she incorporates German theatrical conventions, literary metaphors etc., yet on the other presents a perspective on the experiences of Jewish Europeans at the mercy of National Socialism that deviates from formulae typically seen in provincial municipal theatres. In the final moments of the ballet, Salomon and Death perform an emotionally fraught, technically challenging, balletic pas de deux. Breiner has stated in promotional material that the scene intended to show Salomon confronting death and struggling for life, however it also hinted at something much darker. Salomon is not only a passive partner being led, she actively leaps into Death’s arms. Salomon gives into Death’s prevailing influence and with his hands covering her eyes, the dancers exit through the proscenium one final time.

– LUKE AARON FORBES

Excerpt of an article published by Dance Europe, Issue 194, April 2015. Purchase the entire issue here: http://www.danceeurope.net/store/issue-194

EXCERPT // “no ballet” International Choreography Competition

Michael Getman’s Face to face […] bombarded the audience with identifiable gestures and signifiers, triggering fragile association chains and disrupting them a moment later. This was achieved by juxtaposing/conflating concepts such as fascism (Hitler Gruß) and docility (common salutes), homosexuality and bestiality (moaning as one dancer rides the other as a cowboy might a horse). These embodied concepts and images were supplemented with a recording of a text with stark religious references, the male voice alluding to the denial of god, the image of the innocent child, the desperation of beggars, etc. The movement vocabulary remained understated and familiar, a welcome counterpoint in the otherwise challenging work.

– LUKE AARON FORBES

Excerpt of an article published by Dance Europe, Issue 191, January 2015. Purchase the entire issue here: http://www.danceeurope.net/store/issue-191