Compañía María Pagés and MéMé BaNjO - Compagnie Lionel Hoche
‘La Tirana,’ 'Flamenco Republic' and 'Rite of Spring,' 'Volubilis'
by S.E. Arnold
June 25 - 29, 2003 -- Ted Shawn Theater and Doris Duke Studio Theater at Jacob's Pillow, MA
Although the companies performing
concurrently in the Ted Shawn and Doris Duke Theatres at Jacob's Pillow
often differ dramatically in dance styles, a viewer can nevertheless count
on a complementary relationship between them.
In a realization of Goya's portrait
of the Family of Charles IV, couples costumed in the Empire style articulate
the lexicon of Flamenco to a minuet. In addition to revealing the intricate
use of music in “La Tirana,” for example, its mix of live and recorded
sound and its inclusion of other genres -- the adaptation of Flamenco's
'wild' rhythms onto the tame rhythms of Bellini and Schubert or "Singing
in the Rain" -- was funny, like watching someone work on a metric-tooled
machine with English measure wrenches. Although the premise of “La Tirana,”
a male patron accidentally trapped in the Goya gallery of a museum, suggests
a Pygmalion scenario, the sense of loss behind the gestures of Flamenco's
howl and the communal yet very private aspects of its intense performance
practices ban the sense of fulfillment the Pygmalion myth holds and in
consequence keeps the dance relationship between the sexes formal, if
Further, given the suggestive yet un-alluring and colorless costumes the three female and two male dancers wear, the fact that the piece begins in silence, that there are moments when the music’s energy splashes ineffectively on still, knotted and heavily weighted sculptural poses, and instances of movement that seem painfully deaf to the music suggest that this “Rite of Spring” takes place in the realm of the Dead. That is, this is a “Rite of Spring” seen from Pluto's point of view.
And, as if to highlight this work's
readable gestures, when Persephone -- the Chosen One -- silently enters
the space at the opening moment, one knows that she knows what is about
to happen to her. Other characters in this tale of eternal return include
Hecate, Venus, and Thanatos. Although completely fictitious, the invented
characters, for there are none named in the program, nevertheless serve
as metaphorical descriptions of the power relationship each had to the
other and to the Chosen One. The duets Hecate and Pluto each have with
Persephone, for example, reveal their ambivalence toward her. Moreover,
the costume each wears seems to support their fictional character. For
example, the Venus character wears a white lacey Victoria's Secret-looking
garment while the ready-for-action garment worn by the Thanatos character
gives him a fit and youthful look. Additionally, as befits their regal
status, the Hecate and Pluto characters wear finer looking black "hour
of foolishness" bedtime ware flecked with shards of gold.
Edited by Jeff.
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