La La La Human Steps


Teatro Argentina, Rome, Italy

October 26, 2002
By Patrizia Vallone

Another dance event of this year’s Romaeuropa Festival was Amelia, produced by the Canadian company La La La Human Steps. This show was sold out, like all the other ones presented at the Festival, which confirms the Roman public’s great interest in contemporary dance.

The Quebéquoise company was founded in 1980 by the choreographer Édouard Lock, of Moroccan descent, who’s directed it since then.

Amelia had its world première in Prague a few days before coming to Rome. When the Festival’s schedule had been presented in September, the ballet was still untitled!

The dancers move on a dark and gloomy stage, where the light falls almost always from above. It doesn’t follow the action; the dancers usually have to chase it, racing from one spotlit point to the next. The performers often dance in couples, but these couples are mismatched: they fight, they hit and throw each other on the ground, there’s no trace of any passion whatsoever, not even a hidden one. The steps are always frantic, there’s never a relaxed moment.

Now and then a large mirror – much like the one Snow White’s stepmother speaks to – is lowered from the flies and the ballerinas’ computer-processed images are projected on it. I found this very sinister and disquieting, because the women seemed to lose all traits of humanity and looked just like plastic dolls. But evidently that’s just what Lock intended.

What I did like was Lock’s perfect blend of academic and contemporary dance. The dancers’ bodies seemed split in two at the waist: the lower half moved with academic technique, all the positions open and hips perfectly en dehors, while the upper half’s port de bras was contemporary. There was an exaggerated use of points; the women were always en pointe, except when walking or running.

Frankly, the ballet was a bit too long: over an hour and a half, with no intermission. After the initial novelty and wonderment wore off, it tended to fold into itself and become repetitive; there was no development nor end. Was this Lock’s intention too?

David Lang’s original score was partly performed live and partly computer-processed. The musicians (Alexandra Sweeton, vocals; Alexandre Castonguay, cello; Simon Claude, violin; and Njo Kong Kie, piano) were perfectly inserted in the stage space and fully part of the show.

The dancers – Andrea Boardman, Nancy Crowley, Mistaya Hemingway, Keir Knight, Chin Hong Li, Bernard Martin, Jason Shipley-Holmes, Zofia Tujaka and William Smith – are all excellent, and were warmly applauded by the audience.


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Edited by Malcolm.

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