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 Post subject: Koffi Kolo/Ismael Ivo/Yoshi Oida - "The Maids"
PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2002 2:23 am 
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<img src="http://www.barbican.org.uk/images/events/The-maids.jpg" alt="" />

Koffi Kolo/Ismael Ivo/Yoshi Oida

<img src="http://www.danceumbrella.co.uk/koffi/details.gif" alt="" />

The Maids - Dance Theatre based on the Play by Jean Genet

A Theaterhaus Stuttgart production
Choreography by Koffi Kôkô and Ismael Ivo
Directed by Yoshi Oida
Music by Joao de Bruco
Stage and Costumes by Kazuko Watanabe

Last seen under the Umbrella in 1995, Koffi Kôkô makes a welcome return to the festival, this time with a radical dance theatre production of Genet’s eternally controversial play.
For this truly international collaboration he is joined by two other remarkable performers, Ismael Ivo and Ziya Azazi, to create an intense fusion of African ritual, Brazilian carnival and Middle Eastern exoticism.Directed by Yoshi Oida, long- term collaborator with Peter Brook, this fiercely physical interpretation of The Maids plays heavily on the themes of dominance, humiliation, dependence and role playing. It also takes inspiration from Genet’s Un Chant d’Amour, a short silent film about two prisoners in adjoining cells that will be screened after the performance. Passionate movement, intense performances, live music from composer Joao de Bruco…the sense of claustrophobia is inescapable.

“dance theatre of superlatives… earning the ensemble deafening applause” Die Rhein
“heartfelt, moving and unforgettable” Hamburger Abendblatt

<small>[ 10-18-2002, 07:44: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Koffi Kolo/Ismael Ivo/Yoshi Oida - "The Maids"
PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2002 11:20 pm 
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MAIDS TO ORDER
by Donald Hutera


Based on Jean Genet’s 1946 play, the essentially text-free dance-theatre co-production The Maids premiered at Theaterhaus Stuttgart last year. It’s a chamber piece, but its collaborators’ origins lend it global scope.

Although born in São Paulo, Ismael Ivo is something of a pop star in his resident Germany. Ivo has dramatic leanings: not long ago he and fellow Brazilian expatriate Marcia Haydée worked on a scaled-down, intensified two-person version of Tristan and Isolde. Here he’s paired with Koffi Kôkô, a West African dancer-choreographer who lives in Paris. Casting them as Genet’s maids is no extreme gender switch, given the author’s repeated romanticisation of homosexuality. Director Yoshi Oida, had the inspired idea to also source Genet’s Un Chant d’Amour, a short, silent film about two criminals in adjoining cells.

The performance opens with Ivo and Kôkô as prisoners separated by invisible walls; these are suggested by Lutz Deppe’s lighting, the performers’ physical skill and our (and their) willing imagination. The setting subsequently melts back and forth between the prison and the attic room they once shared when employed as servants. The latter is another kind of incarceration, marked by class divisions but also their own dangerously symbiotic psychology.

The men perform with commanding concentration and sweat-drenched attention to expressive detail. Both are magnificently aware of their lean, long-limbed, muscular bodies. Their femininity comes to the fore in deeper ways than just the capering games and coquettish preening with which they use hats and fabric wraps. Kôkô offers opportunities, Ivo runs with them. Within those broad character outlines runs a complex, tangled relationship based on currents of submission and power, desire and fear. These are two people who can get neither too close, nor far enough apart. Sulking and fighting are the flip-sides of pleasure and play. A desperately needy embrace can turn into a clinging trap. Little wonder that at one point they try to tear off each other’s faces.

The piece is more quartet than two-hander. Turkish dancer Ziya Azazi is double-cast as masturbatory prison guard and an effusively drunk, demanding employer. In the latter guise he vamps and camps with tyrannical, athletic energy. Onstage musician Joao de Bruco exerts an active, even exotic presence. His large instruments are unusual: a percussive mobile, thin miked metal rods connected to cannisters, suspended bowls harbouring rattling beads. He uses these, a keyboard and his voice (guttural gibberish or growl) to comment and spur on the action.

Kazuko Watanabe’s designs are admirably spare: two low, hard beds, plus some colourful props and bits of costuming to offset the predominant grey tones. This Maids is never less than intriguing and the first five or ten minutes might rank as one of the most sexually charged moments you’re likely to see in a theatre this year.

[This edited review is reprinted with the kind permission of Dance Europe.]

WHO: ISMAEL IVO / KOFFI KOKO / YOSHI OIDA
WHAT: THE MAIDS
WHEN: TUE 15 - SAT 19 OCT
WHERE: BARBICAN: THE PIT
ON SALE: NOW! £12
TICKETS: 020 7638 8891

<small>[ 09-09-2002, 01:22: Message edited by: Donald Hutera ]</small>

_________________
This interview was posted by Stuart Sweeney on behalf of Donald Hutera and first appeared in Dance Umbrella News.

Donald Hutera writes regularly on dance and arts for The Times, Evening Standard, Time Out, Dance Europe, Dance Magazine (US) and Dance Now. He is co-author, with Allen Robertson, of The Dance Handbook.

Join Dance Umbrella's mailing list to receive future editions of Dance Umbrella News.
Call: 020 8741 5881
Email: mail@danceumbrella.co.uk
Web: www.danceumbrella.co.uk


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 Post subject: Re: Koffi Kolo/Ismael Ivo/Yoshi Oida - "The Maids"
PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2002 3:08 am 
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Review in the Times.

Quote:
SATURATED in intensity, fuelled by forbidden rituals and transgressive rites, this ferocious dance-theatre rendition of The Maids is about as compelling as it gets. A swirling midnight carnival of death, Jean Genet’s wicked, wish-fulfilment fantasy is the perverse fable of two maids who murder their mistress to purloin her frippery and appropriate her soul. The problem is they don’t know which is which
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 Post subject: Re: Koffi Kolo/Ismael Ivo/Yoshi Oida - "The Maids"
PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2002 4:20 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
The Maids
By Judith Mackrell in The Guardian


Yoshi Oida's version of The Maids opens in a prison in which two men are breathing cigarette smoke to each other through a hole in the wall. As they inhale and exhale, their concentration is both desolate and erotic. The prison guard, spying, becomes an aroused voyeur: the image captures fiercely the triangular hell of Genet's play. Three separate people locked in a mutual jail of power and dependency.

During the rest of this 70-minute work, Genet's action is reduced to similarly intense metaphors. Ismael Ivo and Koffi Koko, as the maids, are mesmerising; Ivo dances as if in a ritual trance, his moves fraught with refined emotion; when he dresses up as his mistress, preening infront of Koko, he embodies a sexualised longing and grandeur that are painful to watch.

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 Post subject: Re: Koffi Kolo/Ismael Ivo/Yoshi Oida - "The Maids"
PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2002 6:40 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Genet doesn’t always survive the transfer to film or stage. I remember a thin 1956 film version of “The Balcony” with Leonard Nimoy before his Star Trek days and later I walked out of Fassbinder’s soft-porn version of “Querelle of Brest”. On the other hand there was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s version of “The Balcony” with a young Helen Mirren burning the paint off the walls of the Aldwych with her intense sexuality. And now we have this passionate dance theatre production of “The Maids”.

The tiny black box space of The Pit, deep in the bowels of The Barbican, has seen several fine dance performances in the past year and this was no exception. Directed by Yoshi Oida for the Theaterhaus Stuttgart, the programme notes point out the importance of Genet’s film “Un Chant d’Amour” in the development of the concept of the piece. “The Maids” opens with two prisoners being locked in their cells and a scene borrowed from the film where one blows cigarette smoke through a long, thin pipe into the other cell to the sensual delight of the other. At this stage the movement is reminiscent of Butoh. The arrival of the musician/composer João de Bruço with some props signals a breakdown of the imaginary wall between the cells – perhaps a flashback to their time in service to a wealthy woman, perhaps imagined, perhaps a metaphor for the imprisonment of dull, routine chores, it doesn’t really matter in this dream-like work.

As the Maids, Ismael Ivo and Koffi Kôkô, dress up and play games of control with each other, the mood is enriched by the live music on a range of percussion instruments from a gamelan to a thin rod with a pick-up producing strange electronic sounds similar to the French group of the 1960s Les Structure Sonores. Whether producing delicately sounds on instruments of his own making, thunderous and stressful bangings or songs in the manner of Captain Beefheart, de Bruço succeeds single-handed in providing an excellent accompaniment and fascinating music in its own right.

But it is the dramatic tension between Ivo and Kôkô that provides the core of the performance. I surmise that they provided their own dance steps as Ivo has a background in Alvin Ailey and Tanztheater and Kôkô is a priest in the animalist cults of Benin and is now a Paris based choreographer. The contrasted modern and African dance styles work admirably together and the atmosphere of physicality can almost be cut with a knife as the two work through a series of rituals of longing and frustration.

In the middle, the guard, haunted by unfulfilled sexual fantasies, is reborn as the wealthy woman and for a few splendid minutes Ziya Azazi controls the stage with as wonderful a piece of bravura over-the-top, danger filled acting and tumbling as you are likely to see.

The narrative is of little significance, but the Maids have falsely reported the woman’s lover to the police and have hatched a plot to poison her. In the end death hangs heavy and erotic in the air as the Guard puts a gun in Kôkô's mouth while reaching for his own sexual pleasure.

What is clear is that this enigmatic and often surreal work has a power you rarely experience in the theatre and I suspect that Genet would have approved of this poetic and visceral interpretation of his play.

<small>[ 10-19-2002, 08:51: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Koffi Kolo/Ismael Ivo/Yoshi Oida - "The Maids"
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2002 2:41 am 
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The Maids
by John Percival for The Independent

Here is a strange mixture. The Maids, brought to the Barbican Pit jointly by Bite:02 and Dance Umbrella, starts from Jean Genet's French play of 1947 but such words as are still included are given in four different languages. The action still concerns two maids (both played by men) who are fatally obsessed with dressing up as their mistress. They are now, for part of the time, prisoners in adjacent cells. And the play has been adapted into dance theatre by the dancer-choreographers Ismael Ivo – who comes from Brazil via New York and Germany – and Koffi Koko, born in Benin but now based in Paris. Then add Yoshi Oida as director, with his interest in ritual influenced as much by European theatre (Grotowski, Brook) as by Japanese traditions. Oh, and it's produced by arts organisations in Stuttgart and Berlin in conjunction with theatres in Rouen and Ferrara.

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 Post subject: Re: Koffi Kolo/Ismael Ivo/Yoshi Oida - "The Maids"
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2002 12:02 pm 
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Review from the Telegraph.

Quote:
The French thief and author's play, The Maids, concerns Claire and Solange, below stairs, whose obsessive relationship leads to murder upstairs, but this dance-theatre production by Theaterhaus Stuttgart has resonantly conflated that book with a short film by Genêt himself, making the maids into two men, their circumstances prison, their employer their jailer - and putting the lot into dance.

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 Post subject: Re: Koffi Kolo/Ismael Ivo/Yoshi Oida - "The Maids"
PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2002 10:06 am 
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Review in the Sunday Times.

Quote:
For Theaterhaus Stuttgart’s adaptation of Jean Genet’s The Maids at the Barbican, the director, Yoshi Oida, takes the somewhat too obvious step of using prison as a metaphor for the bondage of domestic service.
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