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 Post subject: Ballet Freiburg/Pretty Ugly
PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2002 2:37 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19616
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
<img src="" alt="" />
<small>Photo: Klaus Fröhlich
Tänzer/in: Emma Louise Jordan, Shane Hedges
Choreographie: Die Kunst der Fuge</small>

Ballet Freiburg/Pretty Ugly

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Amanda Miller returns to London with her celebrated composition The Art of Fugue. The former resident choreographer with Ballett Frankfurt founded her own company in 1993 and is renowned for inventing hybrid forms of movement, creating 'bridges' between different eras and styles.

The Art of Fugue, made in 2000 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, presents a sense of the whole work with a fantastic, flowing and dreamlike quality. The music is transposed into a series of images raising questions about chaos and order, the old and the new.
The company of nine outstanding dancers is joined on stage by musicians from the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, a world-renowned ensemble who perform Bach's score live on period instruments.

Sat 2 Nov - Meet the Artist
Free to ticket holders after the performance.

"the outstanding event of the season"
Badische Zeitung
"a real, rare choreographer, whose message is that ballet is a living art... what a talent" Daily Telegraph
"you could see this piece over and over and still find new resonances - with these spirited, intelligent dancers worth the watching every time" The Herald

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Freiburg/Pretty Ugly
PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2002 11:27 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 63
by Donald Hutera

American choreographer Amanda Miller’s The Art of Fugue, for her group Ballet Freiburg/Pretty Ugly, is an enormously artful yet unaffected response to a live rendition of Bach’s music of the same name. The dancing, while beautifully disciplined, seems as easy and free-flowing as a gentle wind. Whether sprinting on or gliding offstage - or occupying benches to the side, like a particularly elegant sports team - Miller’s nine-strong company creates a sense of community into which we’re invited. It includes the five musicians of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, who adopt a prominent position downstage, and fellow audience members in three-tiered bleacher seating up at the back.

Miller’s mathematical approach to motion is a means to emotion. The stage suggests playing field, playground and rehearsal studio all in one. The atmosphere is relaxed and deceptively informal, with low-key lighting and dancers wearing socklets and casual costumes in muted shades of blue. Bach’s music, in an expressive orchestration for harpsichord and strings, provides a filigreed structure upon which Miller’s wonderfully individual dancers climb. Her background in ballet is discernible in their effortless facility and the classical lines of their limbs. The footwork is cat’s-paw soft, and the gentle distortions of Miller’s writing rendered with lush assurance.

Miller’s working methods have a direct bearing on the tone of what she and the company create. “I need to feel like the walls can stretch,” says dancer Miriam Parker. “Amanda allows that. It’s a very delicate and respecting freedom she creates in the studio. That’s what she wants.”The soft-spoken Miller, a William Forsythe alumnus, concurs. “To do what we’re doing, I just have to believe in it blindly and happily. Because of the community idea, what’s most important is that everybody’s supportive. The first thing I look for is someone compassionate to the group and me and the work. I always make people audition me!”

ON SALE: NOW! £11 - £17.50 (CONC £2 OFF)
TICKETS: 020 7960 4203

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

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Freiburg/Pretty Ugly
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2002 3:20 am 

Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 240
Graceful leaps forward
Ismene Brown for The Daily Telegraph reviews the Ballet de Lorraine and the Ballet Freiburg at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Autumn is the season to gorge on dance, with the ballet companies' season launches paralleled by the Dance Umbrella festival. Thanks to the bounteousness of this subsidised enterprise - now 24 years old - London receives surely the widest array of dance of any city in the world in those two months.

This season's attractions began with the great American abstract-modernist Merce Cunningham and ended at the weekend with two leading European companies who try to take ballet forward, each in their own way.

click for more

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Freiburg/Pretty Ugly
PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2002 4:13 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 134
Location: London, England
Ballet Freiburg Pretty Ugly
The Art of Fugue
Queen Elizabeth Hall

Ballet Freiburg’s Artistic Director Amanda Miller created her response to Bach’s Art of Fugue in 2000, celebrating the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death. Bach’s music continues to thrive centuries after its creation, inspiring modern audiences, contemporary composers and jazz players with its logic and magic. Miller hopes to do the same for ballet, making it relevant, progressive and alive for a 21st century audience.

In fact there is little you would recognise as ‘ballet’ here. Where Bach wrote his music to a strict set of rules, Miller makes it her business to twist the classical rules, distort them and knock them out of joint, as many others have tried to do since the early 20th century. This is contemporary dance stemming from a classical poise – there are smoothly curved arms, great long developées and arabesques but they are often inverted or consciously off-centre. That the company presents one full length work (as opposed to a collection of shorter pieces) is a particularly balletic thing to do, as abstract work cannot always sustain the audience’s attention for a full evening. Miller just about manages this by implementing two contrasting sections in the second half. But more of that later.

Where this piece works best is when it demonstrates direct inspiration from the music. Taking its lead from the fugal form, this is a dance about motifs, and what you might do with them. The piece starts with a solo dancer but only finds its true purpose when there are, say, five dancers following their own fluid lines, dancing the same steps but in different sequences, repeating motifs, reversing and inverting, and weaving through each other’s lines. The choreography only really grabs your attention when you can’t take it all in, when the stage is full of diverging dancers. You can jump from one line to the next, catching the recurrent motif, follow a single dancer as their graceful story unfurls, or sit back and take in the overview like a kaleidoscope’s changing patterns. Two dancers might fall into step, which magnifies a part as if shifting musical dynamics to a sudden forte (loud). Some people identify Bach as restrained, even bland, but the musicians (The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra) carry this piece along with great force and passion.

The set is understated to say the least, just an empty stage with a bench at the side for resting dancers. Two rows of audience at the back of the stage enjoying a more intimate experience of the show, and with the musicians flanking stage right, this has the feel of a studio performance or surrealist court ballet. The costumes too are pleasingly basic; dark blue vests and shorts. This austerity is utterly intentional but it does mean a lack of context for the dance – so that when a dancer makes gestures or suggests a mime you really have no idea what they might mean.

In the second half of the performance there are two interludes (equivalent to fugal ‘episodes’) that break away from the perpetual motion of the piece. First, a ring of light is thrown on stage, and the dancers take turns to circle the light and pass through its dark centre with a showy move, like a half hearted dance contest.

Much more effective is another light projection, when the stage is flooded with tight rows of repeated letters. It’s a dramatic and surprising effect, with the luminous letters also covering the body of the solo dancer; growing or shrinking in size as he moves across the stage; clearly defined or a garbled flurry as he sustains a position or spins at lightning speed. He is swimming through the text, jumping into an empty space after intangible characters. There’s a nice opposition between the solidity of the capital letters and the ephemeral light. There’s something there but you can’t quite get hold of it, which is quite a good metaphor for the experience of watching the dance. It seems strange that Miller brings in palpable concepts at this late stage of the work, it’s out of step with the rest of the piece. Nonetheless, it’s also the only way to keep an audience engaged in a single work for a whole evening. Miller might have sensed our attention slipping, but she reels the audience back in, ready to peel back the layers of movement and music once more.

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