Friday, October 21, 2016

Theather: Dance Show in Hellerau
Title: One Flat Thing, Reproduced
Choreograph: William Forsythe
Music: Thom Willems
Costumes:  Stephen Gallowat
Premiere: 2.02.2000, Frankfurt Ballet, Bockenheimer Deport, 
Frankfurt on the Main
     Title: Lux Tenebris                            
   Choreograph: Rafeal Bonachela        
Music: Nick Wales                            

Costumes: Aleisa Jelbart                  
                         Premiere: 26.02.2016, Sydney Dance Company,
                   Roslyn Packer Therather Walsh Bay, Sydney

        I am not a big fan of contemporary art, especially in theater. It does not mean that I am totally orthodox about new ideas, not at all. I am open to all kinds of experiments, but sometimes the performance just leaves me unmoved. Which does not mean it did not affect me; it does leave me in either positive or rather puzzled mood. Let's take ballet as an example. The change in setting and the dance routine is more than welcome as soon as the story continues to be logical and consistent. Put Romeo and Juliet in Americas 40s gangster years, why not? Retell the Snow White story by putting dancers in modern clothes and let them dance street dance – can be challenging, but still good as soon as the story line is impacted.

     But what to do with contemporary dance which does not have story line? It does have an idea which is sometimes difficult to grasp. Difficult to stay focused on any idea when a bunch of naked dances with epileptic abrupt movements change their position on stage with a one-note musical accompaniment.

         Similar happened to me again this September. My friend invited me to a dance show in Dresden. She told me this is a good opportunity not only enjoy the show, but to see the historical building Hellerau which used to be the center of contemporary expressive dance in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century.
The central building in Hellerau
So for a ridiculous sum of money the bus picked us up in the Prague center and brought us to the Hellerau quarter. We had a brief tour about the history of the "garden city". The lady-guide concentrated a great deal on the communist past of the building, when it was used as barracks for the soviet army on the Western front were left untouched on the walls of the Festspielhaus (building with the main stage). To many it can seem too ugly and out of place, but my impression was quite agreeable. It seems like a colour splash on boring white walls with historical message: a piece of conceptual art within modern and contemporaneity environment.

      So when the show began, I knew about it as little as possible. Nothing can ruin the impression of performance more than great expectations. So the title of the first piece shown is "One Flat Thing, reproduced". It was first run in 2000 in Frankfurt on the Main (DE). You would agree that with such title it is quite difficult to predict the twists of the show. It begins with the roar not music. 20 tables are brought on stage and its surface becomes the platform for an action. The bodies move raging, with alacrity. Sometimes they are synchronized, most of the time they move like razors in rambling waves. That gave me the impression that a sea is revolving: it lives its life under the surface (in our case tables) but what we see above the water is more spectacular as the creatures do not have their grace anymore but still try to be creative.
      In other moments when the waves were not so obvious I got quite different perception of what is going on stage. I saw a big city in the evening, just before it goes to sleep. In random windows the light is turned on and we can see different scenes from everyday life. From time to time the city gets into a strange and curious unison, holds a second and then chatters to small actions again.

     After a short intermission the second part of the performance was shown. It was a premiere in Europe as its opening night was in Sydney on 26th of February 2016. So we were quite lucky that night. The title of the piece is "Lux Tenebris" and as my Google translator friend tells me it is translated from Latin as "Light in the darkness". It was quite a different performance by sound, dance and music. On a dark stage a random place is lit by a vague light of an electric lamp. It lit individuals or group of people who in their harmonic movements tell us short stories of their lives, dramas, friendship and love. That part of the show was really fascinating as every action revealed astonishing body control and scrupulous work behind it.

    Here I have here a piece from Rafael Bonachela's interview: "I was interested in the unfamiliar and industrial. I wanted to evoke industrial connection between people and wanted to draw out the tension that comes from those interactions: the human encounters that surround us as they move in or out of focus and light, blinded at times by direct light or looking sideways into the edge of the shadow".

     As I said in the beginning of this post that I am not a big fan of contemporary art, but every new experience leaves me with some new visual ideas, questions in my head and strange longing for even more new things)

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