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 Post subject: Rosas/Alston/Khan
PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 12:16 pm 
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Location: London UK
Rosas/Alston/Khan
Dance to Music by Steve Reich
Barbican Centre
London
28th September 2006


Part 1 Rosas

In this programme three very different choreographers create works to the music of Steve Reich. The first part, Piano Phrase, is performed by Rosas to a recording of Reich’s Piano Phase and Violin Phase from Fase: this music is stark and ascetic in its nature and it is very much to De Keersmaeker’s credit that she is able to interpret such a difficult score so effortlessly. In the first half of the work the two dancers (De Keersmaeker and Tale Dolven) are rather plainly dressed in simple almost colourless dresses with white ankle socks and sneakers, although they are just two, they cast three shadows that become four when they begin to dance. The chorography is as spare and basic as the minimalist score itself with repeated turns with one arm outstretched at a speed that is neither fast nor slow, the pace exactly matching that of the music. The repetitious character of the steps could easily be boring, however it is anything but with the movement developing an hypnotic quality that draws the viewer into the inexorable rhythms of the dance. The second half, Violin Phase, is an extended solo for De Keersmaeker that begins with her barely visible on the darkened stage with only her torso slightly illuminated. By degrees the light increases until she casts a giant shadow that eventually becomes two. As ever I admired her stamina in this demanding piece, as this is a lady who never spares herself physically.

Part 2 Richard Alston Dance Company

The music of the second work, Perotin Viderunt Omnes and Proverb could not be more different from the first as this is Reich acknowledging the past with a nod to both Elizabethan part songs and Renaissance church liturgy. Beautifully sung by The Theatre of Voices and Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen grouped at the back of the stage, this far more varied score offered opportunities for more emotional involvement with the music. With a company of ten, the groupings were many and varied beginning with a duet for two men and eventually encompassing the entire troupe. There was a strange contrast between the girls’ smart cocktail style dresses and the mens’ loose tee shirts as if formal and very casual were experimenting in interaction. At times I caught a slight almost imperceptible gesture of arm and wrist hinting at courtly posturings of the past, but this was momentary. The engaging choreography was both flowing and energetic, reflecting the music but perhaps on this occasion not creating any really lasting images.

Part 3 Akram Khan Company

The backdrop to Akram Khan’s contribution to the evening is the London Sinfonietta, ranged around the back and sides of the stage leaving a well-defined rectangle at the front of the stage as a performing space. Reich’s Variations for Vibes, Pianos and strings requires a larger then usual percussion section and the massed ranks of players seem to have had a significant influence on Khan’s creation. The work begins with a smile-inducing example of Khan’s humour when company member Gregory Macqoma sits on a chair, looks out into the auditorium and says “Hi”, quite a few audience members return his greeting and he proceeds to tell as a little about himself. Soon however it becomes apparent that he is in fact engaged in an interview with an invisible interviewer and you begin to play a game with him of guessing what the original questions were. After a few minutes of this conductor Alan Pierson comes forward with a gesture that reminds us that Macqoma is there to dance and with chair and dancer removed the music and dancing begin. The humour continues with a witty sequence of the three dancers with their backs to the stage conducting the orchestra, both a parody of a conductor’s movements and an opportunity to admire some particularly fluid arm movements by the dancers. Khan’s arms of course were the most fluidly beautiful of all.

This was a very lengthy programme that was both a tribute to Steve Reich’s music and to the choreographers and dancers that interpreted it in their own individual styles. Audience reaction was rapturous and the applause prolonged. The evenings performance was dedicated to the memory of recently deceased John Drummond who was not only a fierce champion of Reich’s music, but of modern music in general besides being a great lover of dance in all its forms.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 9:17 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: London UK
Clement Crisp's take on this programme:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/d30ae4a8-51b1-1 ... e2340.html

I suppose liking two out of three isn't too bad by his standards.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 5:25 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
I suppose liking two out of three isn't too bad by his standards.


Yes, indeed, Cassandra, but I have to say that your description:

Quote:
The repetitious character of the steps could easily be boring, however it is anything but with the movement developing an hypnotic quality that draws the viewer into the inexorable rhythms of the dance.


is exactly my memory of the work from 10 years ago. Indeed, I would call this early-1980's piece a contemporary dance classic.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:47 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
Hi,

I'm combining this topic with the one on Steve Reich @ 70 -- click here.


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