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We are delighted to have this article by Jane Pritchard of Rambert Dance Company about the new work: <big>"Visions Fugitives" - Geometry and Comedy
By Jane Pritchard
, Rambert Dance Company's Archivist
Geometry and comedy feature in Hans van Manen’s "Visions Fugitives", which enters Rambert’s repertory at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, in March. It is a dance that may be described as formal but fun. It appears geometric in both the movement and the designs for the set and costumes. The set is constructed of lengths of elastic suspended at angles across the back of the stage that catch the light as well creating open wings that allow the dancers to make ‘transparent’ entrances. For costumes the dancers wear body tights with textured stripes that, if they had been made in pink and white, (rather than black, white, grey and blue) would echo those for Candy Cane in The Nutcracker. Add movement and the elastic and striped costumes create an intriguing op-art effect. Further geometric shapes arise from the dance, as the dancers move in the lines and circles. Finally, the dancers bodies take up van Manen’s trademark movements in which they appear to make X and Y shapes, their limbs at 45 degrees to their torsos, as well as lunging into deep pliés à la seconde and extending in a variety of arabesques.
The comedy comes from the wit that van Manen puts into the movement. This ranges from quirky gestures to the dancers’ reactions (or lack of reactions) to one another and from the jokey entrances. As "Visions Fugitives" is a short ballet running for only 18 minutes, and within that time presents 15 musical miniatures, some sections consist almost entirely of an entrance! The structure comes from the score by Serge Prokofiev (the inclusion of "Visions Fugitives" in this year’s repertoire marks the fiftieth anniversary of Prokofiev’s death) which allows for a variety of rhythm and mood. Sections of dance skim along as though the dancer is on ice and sliding movements, some of them by a dancer supported by her partner, become a characteristic motif. Flowing movements are interrupted by staccato gestures, stretched feet suddenly flex and more obvious dance steps alternate with pedestrian movements, walking, running and jogging.
"Visions Fugitives" is primarily an abstract work. The curtain opens on a man walking upstage in a relaxed manner, going into self-absorbed poses before his partner arrives to join him in the first duet. It closes with that woman prone on the floor, the other five dancers walking away from her. It has a cast of six, three women and three men, who are introduced in successive duets at the start of the production but who later perform in a variety of groupings. As a choreographer van Manen’s avoids telling stories but fleetingly one sees moments of emotion (attraction and repulsion are constantly present in van Manen’s choreography).
Han van Manen has been a central figure in the Dutch dance scene for half a century and, as the dance critic, Eva van Schaik, has described, his creations are ‘clear constructions, which are marked by pure and simple beauty, musical harmony and logic, [and] almost arithmetic rationalism’. His choreography is, or has been, in the repertoire of more than forty dance companies which makes it surprising that Visions Fugitives is the first ballet by the great choreographer to officially feature in Rambert’s repertoire. This is particularly true as van Manen has been described as the ‘king of the crossover’ having been one of the group of dancers an choreographers who with Nederlands Dans Theater pioneered the synthesis of classical ballet and modern dance, providing a role-model for Rambert’s development in the 1960s.
**************************** This article first appeared in "Meeting Point" Rambert's magazine for its donors and members of its teaching scheme. For more details about the donor schemes and how you can help Rambert, here is the link on their website
<small>[ 09 April 2003, 04:30 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>