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Compagnie Linga:

When a Table is Centerstage

by Rosella Simonari

December 22, 2006 -- Pergolesi Theatre, Jesi (Ancona), Italy

Can four dancers sitting around a table create a thrilling dynamic quality? The answer is definitely yes when the four dancers in question are members of the Swiss Compagnie Linga and when the piece is “Concerto” (1996), their most successful work. The piece opens with four chairs lined up downstage left. The four dancers are composed of three men and a woman,  all smartly dressed: black suits with white shirts for the guys and a tight black dress for the girl. The programme note highlights that this is a piece about “a timeless allegory of mankind’s debate” where “four characters discuss, argue, fight for and re-examine the subject until the last note”. It is in this sense perhaps less political than Kurt Joss’s 1932  “Der Grüne Tisch”[The Green Table], but not less intense. The dancers jump, run over and beside the table at a high paced rhythm perfectly underscored by the music, Bach’s Harpischord Concerto BWN 1052. Significantly powerful are the movements they perform in unison. In the performance at the Pergolesi Theatre, the piece was performed excellently by the soloists of the Ankara Opera Ballet where it has been part of the repertory since 2006.

As the closing piece of the night, it was a nice burst of energy after the second piece, “Dreaming”, which was performed for the first time and displayed a lack of coherence and cohesion. It is set to music composed for it by Alearco Ambrosi, who also wrote the text spoken by  actress Suzanna Pattoni during the performance. Pianist Roberta Ferrari played live downstage left. Upstage right, there was a wall where the dancers wrote or unveiled some key words and sentences, which were then repeated and expanded upon by Pattoni. Those words included  'Diaghilev', 'tomb', and 'Venice'. So after considering that Diaghilev was indeed buried in Venice, some questions were raised to better understand some key elements of the piece. Is this a journey into the illustrious ballet past created by the Russian impresario? What is the relationship between the dance and the spoken lines? Are the words and sentences stated to create the melancholic atmosphere? We found no tangible answer. The main dance phrase was performed by the two artistic directors of the Company, Katarzyna Gdaniec and Marco Cantalupo. Unfortunately, their pas de deux did not seem to combine with all the other elements of the piece, which, as a whole, appeared stiff and fragmented.

Compagnie Linga was formed in 1992 by Gdaniec and Cantalupo. The former trained as an artistic gymnast before joining Maurice Bejart’s Ballet Du XXe Siécle in 1985, while the latter trained as classical dancer at La Scala in Milan, studied in the United States, for a while and danced with various companies in Europe such as the National Ballet of Portugal and the Hamburg Opera. The company was offered a permanent residence at the Octogone Theatre in Pully/Lausanne just a year after it was formed, and since then it has won quite a few prestigious prizes such as the Leonide Massine Prize in Positano, Italy, in 1995. Their approach to dance is quite dynamic, with an extensive and contrasting use of floor movements and high jumps. Furthermore, they seem quite interested in the relationship between music and dancing, as the opening piece of the evening, “Accidents and Incidents” highlighted.  

“Accidents and Incidents”(2006) is a group piece full of exciting mo(ve)ments. It was originally created for a video production broadcasted on the French channel ARTE. The version the audience saw in Jesi was the result of an adapted theatrical re-working. “The concept of improvisation…has been conceived in this performance as a series of events taking place in space and time”, events that have progressively become a “real score…for eight embodied instruments”. The sparkling jazz music that contributes to the energy of the piece was specially composed by Vince Mendoza. Eight dancers walk following straight lines, some of them form small groups moving together, others dance a brief pas de deux, and a few move on their own. There are lots of jumps. Particularly striking are those where a dancer literally throws herself or himself into the arms of another one. In the general development of the dance, it spices the phrases up with some heart-stopping suspense. Often, the dancers relate to each other according to unusual body connections that recall those used by Bigonzetti for Aterballetto, especially in “WAM” (2005), a piece inspired by the figure of Mozart. In spite of the relatively small number of people attending the performance, the response was very warm and positive.

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