Fall For Dance Program 1

I have hardly any time to blog since I’m leaving early tomorrow morning for North Carolina (for a cousin’s wedding), and as usual have left myself far too little time to pack. I’ll probably write a more formal review for Explore Dance as well.

Rundown of program one: 1) excerpts from Shen Wei’s “Map.” Shen was the choreographer the Beijing Olympics’ Opening Night ceremony, which hopefully some of you caught, but I, stupidly missed.

(Shen Wei’s “Map,” photographer unknown, taken from here)

I liked this better on my second viewing. It’s set to music by Steve Reich that nicely, at times hauntingly, combined techno-industrial sound with chorals. The dancers began all on the ground, rolling in a row, propelling themselves around the floor by helicoptering their arms, then legs. At times, both when supine and standing, they appeared to be in flight, at one with the air around them. Their costumes were gray/blue with small red lines snaking up the outer edge of the leg, and their tops containing a darker back area, like a parachuter’s jacket. On a back wall were painted mathematical formulas, the mid-section resembling a diagram of an aircraft with a complicated configuration of flight patterns. The dance was intriguing, and I liked how it began. It seemed to go on a bit too long to me, losing steam in the middle.

2) I loved Pichet Klunchun’s “Chui Chai” as did the audience, who clapped happily when the curtain rose to reveal several female dancers in traditional Thai costumes, with gilded headwear, moving in extreme slow motion, their wrists and fingers bent miraculously to make the most stunningly beautiful lines. I wrote about his work earlier here, and the meaning of the bent wrists and fingers. The program notes tell us the title stands for “transformation” and the dance tells the story of the princess transforming herself into the king’s enemy’s queen. About mid-way through Mr. Klunchun appears, making a stark contrast to the women with both his modern garb (black t-shirt and jeans) and his more modern movement. It still had the Thai feel, with the hyper-flexed wrists and toes, but his faster movements, his throwing himself into a bend or a kick, resembled more of the western modern dance tradition. I didn’t really see the story flesh itself out, but I loved the movement so much I didn’t care. At the end, when the dancers took their bows, the lay all the way down on the ground, completely prostrate to us. The audience applauded like crazy, some even giving a standing ovation.

3) Third was Keigwin + Company’s “Fire” — one of the middle sections of his larger work, “Elements,” which I wrote about here. “Fire” hadn’t been my favorite of the “Elements,” but tonight it really grew on me, partly I think because two of the three dancers were different from before. Keigwin is good at juxtaposing dancers with different physicalities against each other to hilarious effect (ie: a large-boned woman with a tiny guy), and with physiques that don’t seem to fit the music or attitude of the dance. This piece ends with a hip hop number, and the male dancer who performed last night and tonight was a small, cute, innocent-looking white guy, Julian Barnett, and his well-acted attempts at playing it cool, at getting the hip hop attitude down, were downright hilarious. They got the biggest applause of the evening.

4) and finally, my overall favorite, was the National Ballet of Canada’s rendition of Czech choreographer Jiri Kylian’s “Soldiers’ Mass,” a sorrowful, poignant poetic elegy to men on the battlefield.

(photo courtesy of Netherlands Dance Theater archive, taken from here)

Okay, that’s all I have time for right now. Here is Philip’s review of program one.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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