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 Post subject: Reviews: NDT1 & NDT3 (in Australia)
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2000 4:14 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 4725
Location: Australia
i was really torn as to where to put these...Ballet or Modern Dance?.....i plumped for this forum, principally because the NDT3 program IS modern dance, not ballet - whereas the NDT1 program, we could argue till the cows come home...and SOME people could go on and on after THAT!<P>these two reviews are put up for azlan to format for our CD reviews section, rather than as discussion topics, so i am going to be cowardly, and close the thread immediately - thus pre-empting the inevitable attacks on my intellect and god-knows-what-else...<P>actually, in my defense, even in anticipation (of what CAN'T happen here, now!) i WILL say that the feedback i have had from these reviews, which appeared in the previous issue of dance australia, was all positive, along the lines of people congratulating me for having the guts to say what they were thinking, but wouldn't have dared express....<P>so there! :p<P>now to get serious:<P><B><U><big>NDT 1</big></U></B><BR>Burswood Theatre, Perth, Western Australia<P><BR>How can anyone doubt the great and good, the established and undeniable genius and humanity of one of our twentieth century gods of dance, Jiri Kylian?<P>Its not going to be easy! <P>Of course this company is marvellous. Of course we were thrilled to see them. Of course we all love Kylian the public figure: attractive, dancer-ly in his proud bearing, warm, funny, humane, intelligent, considerate,…the list goes on! <P>But I didn't 'understand' his works. Not in this program. They just went way 'over my head'. Awfully sorry, Mr. Kylian, because I think you're gorgeous! And your dancers are beyond reproach (it goes without saying).<P>This was the first visit ever of this company to Perth, brought here as the dance highlight of the Perth International Arts Festival (PIAF) 2000. Applause for Sean Doran, new Festival Director, for offering us such an important and interesting company.<P>Kylian's <u>Whereabouts Unknown</u> (to music of Part, Webern, Reich, Ives and de Roo) opens with a strikingly spare set of a hanging grid against a black backdrop, with a seated man, stick-drawing in sand, downstage.<P>There is an ongoing theme referring to "traces of old civilisations…..the conscious and the unconscious" (Kylian's program notes). <P>As such, perhaps we don't need to 'understand', but just observe, absorb. With a dance master of Kylian's standing, we are at least happy to assume that he may know better than we do…so one willingly enters into the experience, trusting one's attention is not being wasted (an indulgence not usually granted to lesser mortals). <P>Perhaps the experience will have its own reward, and not necessarily an immediate one.<P>Two striking impressions: the confidence of a master choreographer to do less (not more), and the hugely impressive athleticism of the male dancers. <P>Unfortunately, because I don't know these dancers, I am unable to identify those who made especially exciting impressions.<P>I found this work overlong, which is often the case when one doesn't feel a sense of understanding.<P><U>Sarabande</U> to the music of Bach has a threatening atmosphere from the outset, when the curtain rises to reveal six life-sized ornate baroque ball-gowns, viewed from the back, apparently headless, uninhabited….the lights lift and lower, the gowns rise towards the roof, six supine men can be seen (bare-chested in black trousers).<P>The gowns hover menacingly, while vocal utterances and anguished howls are heard. The program notes suggest the work be viewed like a dream (more likely a nightmare!), in which Kylian "continues his search for basic answers to a basic question of children: Why?" (It beats me…)<P>Sarabande segued straight into <u>Falling Angels</U>, which Kylian's notes describe as "a piece about our profession". The overwhelming lasting impression of this work is, however, not the dancing but the (seemingly) incessant drumming. Drumming seems to be a recent fashion one loves or hates…I'm not keen on it, so that didn't help my appreciation.<P>The score is by Steve Reich, the drummers are sidestage and work themselves (and some members of the audience) up to fever pitch by the conclusion. Others (like me) just feel worn out!<P>I accept that baring my true feelings here will condemn me forever in some readers' eyes. An unredeemable heresy to fail to be seduced by the incomparable NDT, the twentieth century dancers' holy grail. <P>My deep respect for the dancers (& Kylian) remains unaltered, and now better informed by this performance, but I wish at least one of his three works had been a little 'easier' for me!<P>The central work of the program, <U>Skew-Whiff</U> by English NDT dancer Paul Lightfoot, is a lot of fun. <P>He must be Britain's answer to 'our own' Gideon Obarzanek. Four rubber-bodied men engage in almost slapstick dance against a formal score by Rossini (The Thieving Magpie overture). There is an operatic business to its musically precise geometry. <P>Perfectly performed, only about fifteen minutes long and very witty, the audience responded to this refreshing work with the relief of joyous spontaneous laughter. <P> *****<P><B><U><big>NDT III</big></U></B><BR>Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, Western Australia<P>Its only February, and already we have had two unforgettable dance experiences in Perth!<P>One was the visit of NDT 3. (For the other, which has a connection with NDT, see West Australian Ballet's Aqua Nova review in this issue.)<P>{this refers to my rave about the apparent choreographic genius of Australian Simone Clifford, ex NDT dancer.}<P>For the first time, a Perth Festival dance event was presented outside the metropolitan area, an hours drive south down the coast from Perth, in Mandurah. <P>The small city boasts a beautiful modern 800-seat theatre, with excellent comfort, sightlines and acoustics, right on the waterfront - with cruising dolphins occasionally visible in the daytime!<P>It was wonderful to see the Perth dance audience make the effort to attend (an effort which those in the regions must make for every performance in the city). The fact that I live only three blocks away makes it even more appealing to me, for a world-class night at the theatre!<P>For this chance we have to thank the sponsors, residential developers Ravenswood Sanctuary. The unusual connection here is that Lynn Fisher, who longtime readers of this magazine will remember as your previous West Australian correspondent, now works as hospitality director for that company. Lynn was the brains behind this idea, thanks to her continuing love of dance.<BR> <BR>I enjoyed the format of this program: four fairly short works, with several breaks to refresh one's attention. These dancers are all consummate performers, so that even when one doesn't follow what is going on onstage, attention never lapses. They have you in the palm of their hands throughout.<P>I was alternately touched, amused and moved, without necessarily understanding why. <P>Hans van Manen's <U>The Old Man and Me</U>, danced by the legends Simone Kupferberg and Gerard Lemaitre, opened the program. The accompaniment to this light comical piece is J.J. Cale's song of the same name, Stravinsky's Circus Polka and Mozart's Piano Concerto in A major, K 488, Adagio.<P>The only set is a plain bench, where Kupferberg sits in a long purple velvet dress, before attempting to entice the amusing Lemaitre, who is standing nearby, ostensibly disinterested. Kupferberg has a radiantly cheeky smile, and Lemaitre, who is now 64, has a wry attitude, grace and strength.<P>It is honestly a shock to see Kupferberg appear for the first time onstage - a beautiful woman - but not 'a dancer' in the purely physical sense that we often use this term, referring to the powerfully capable and very thin lithe young body. And yet, at the same time, she is clearly of the best dancers in the world!<P>We have some fabulous mature dancers in Australia, notably West Australians Margrete Helgeby and Stefan Karlsson, so we think we are used to seeing older dancers, but their bodies are still magnificently sculptured - unlike some of these performers who, while still very fit and physically attractive, are quite a bit older and dance less physically demanding repertoire.<P>There is a warmth and richness with these performers that I have rarely seen before. Instead of watching bodies, one is aware of watching a person, an embodied human history. <P>Kupferberg follows this piece with an odd one by Ohad Naharin entitled <U>Two Short Stories</U>. The work is accompanied by song excerpts of Elvis Presley and by Camille Saint Saens' The (Dying) Swan. <P>Beginning with a bizarre lengthy monologue (by Italian novelist Calvino) about a lonely woman purposelessly(?) calling out "Teresa" in the middle of a city, it challenges the audience to remain interested in something apparently meaningless, presented by a grotesquely-lit head (Kupferberg's) on top of a blood-red box. (Apparently the impressive lighting took days to set up.) <P>At a seminar a week later, Kupferberg commented on how confronting she knows this is for the audience, and how deeply relieved and supported she feels when the audience laughs at the right moments, as they did here. I must say she delivers this difficult piece superbly.<P>I found the work moving, at times tormented, and poignant, apparently 'about' loss and/or aging, especially (I think) from a woman's point of view.<P><U>A Couple of Moments</U>, choreographed by NDT 1 dancer Johan Inger, introduced Giaconda Barbuto and David Krugel, with music by Arvo Part. This piece contained more 'dancing', these two performers being somewhat younger than NDT 3's original members. <P>The age criteria for this group is "between 40 and death" to quote Kylian. (He added that word going around amongst dancers that he was starting NDT 4 "for the really dead ones" was only a rumour!)<P>The program concluded with <U>A Way A Lone</U>, choreographed by Kylian, based on poems written by NDT 3 dancers, and danced by Kupferberg, Krugel and Lemaitre. <P>The performance received an enthusiastic response. The same group - Kylian and all five dancers - received a persistent standing ovation a week later when they gave up their Sunday for a seminar for dancers at WA Academy of Performing Arts. <P>All extremely generous, they talked, showed filmed highlights of their earlier careers, and even demonstrated excerpts from the performance 'in (mock) rehearsal'. <P>If you ever get a chance to see this group, don't miss it! <P> *****<P>Both (c) Dance Australia, February 23, 2000<P><BR><p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited August 02, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Reviews: NDT1 & NDT3 (in Australia)
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2000 4:28 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Oh I think this is well worth comment, grace. So I'm glad that you decided not to close the thread as you threatened. Many thanks for your reviews which give an interesting slant on the two companies. I do understand your point about where to place the NDTI review. These ballet trained dancers who probably do ballet class every day and work with Kylian and von Manen are the supreme model for most of the small ballet comapnies across Europe and some of the larger ones, but like you i would have placed the review here. Probably the least appropriate description of NDTI and II is '...Dans Theater' as it is not my idea of dance theatre in any form. <P>Particularly interesting is NDTIII who seem to generate wonder wherever they go, but because they are part-time do not get seen so often. As far as i know they have never been to London although they do go to Edinburgh frequently.<P>Kylian's work can be enigmatic and the only one that I have seen of those that you mention is 'Falling Angels'. I started off from a different viewpoint to you as although I don't listen to minimalist music or drumming at home, I think both are often great for dance and this piece was no exception. I found the drumming exhilerating and thought that the dance was witty and interesting. I have to say that I did prefer the Anna Theresa de Keersmaeker work to the same music.<P>It looks as though you did not see the best of Kylian's work, but as we saw in Mark Morris' 'Four Saints in 3 Acts' even genius has its off days.<P>Overall your NDTI review is similar to the recent ones for NDTII in London where we a loved the dancers, but found the works to be good in parts. <P>From the reports I have read, Paul Lightfoot is producing a high standard of work at the moment. And you have to feel that the dancers are very lucky having Kylian, von Manen, Lightfoot and others producing new work on them almost continuously. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited August 02, 2000).]

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 Post subject: Re: Reviews: NDT1 & NDT3 (in Australia)
PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2000 8:45 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17499
Location: SF Bay Area
You know, that is an interesting question, grace. Are they ballet or modern? This could start a whole debate here but I am beginning to feel that this distinction, although helpful for the most part, does not serve to help companies like NDT.

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