Siena, Photo: Jesus Robisco
European performance is slipping through boundaries, transforming relationships between film, dance, painting, dramatic texts and the human body and in all this apparent chaos which redefines live performance, the world of the “post-text” and all forms of creation in space speak equally to each other in unexpected ways. In Canada, Robert Lepage opened the performance space many years go to this kind of visual/corporeal /technologically based work that one could no longer call simply “theatre” but that seemed to relegate the text to another conceptual dimension, thanks to his collaboration with European festivals and creative centres across the Western world. Now, a lot of companies are moving in that direction, apparently feeding off the imaginative style of Italian performer Romeo Castellucci’s work that unites the troubled subconscious of victims of violence of our contemporary world. His bits of spoken word and dialogue often based on the great founding narratives of the Western World, take audiences far away into visually disturbing places of pre-civilization, where we can rediscover the human body and rethink its role in the human uhrschleim of existence. (Continue reading » )
Guillaume Côté (Nijinsky) and Heather Ogden (Romola)
The National Ballet of Canada’s staging of John Neumeier’s Nijinsky, the artist who, by his personal and professional life, has certainly had the most influence on contemporary dance in the world, will go down in the annals of dance drama performance. For the spectator, it does help if one is aware of the history of the Ballet Russe and the different individuals who worked with Nijinsky during his brief professional life because Neumeier’s vision of the work does not try to reproduce autobiographical accuracy or even imitate the many performances that attracted attention to Nijinsky’s dancing . His emphasis is elsewhere. (Continue reading » )
OCD Love (L-E-V Dance) Photo. Courtesy of the National Arts Centre
This latest work by the Israeli dance company LEV Dance, created by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar is a terrifyingly complex moment of corporeal inventiveness that subjected the dancers to the most demanding feat of choreography I have ever seen.
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Photo Ian Whalen
Semperoper Dresden Ballet company
The renowned Semperoper Dresden Ballet under the artistic direction of Canadian Aaron S. Watkin, has just whirled through Ottawa this past weekend with their moving romantic performance of Swan Lake, one of the world’s most famous narrative ballets.
Set to the music of Tchaikovsky, performed by the orchestra of the NAC under the direction of Mikhail Agrest, the tragic story inspired by Russian folk tales concerns the handsome prince Siegfried who falls in love with Odette, the young woman bewitched by an evil magician who can only retain her human form for a brief time every day but who can be released from the spell if she has the true love of a human. (Continue reading » )
The Rite of Spring, Wuppertal Tanztheater at the NAC
Photo Alexandra Campeau
The ghost of Pina Bausch was no doubt fluttering with excitement around the NAC last night as the contemporary formation of her company brought us all back to the very origins of the idea of Tanzteater , dance that incorporates words, foregrounds a heightened form of theatricality and much much more. All that came through very strongly last night in the Opera of the NAC before a packed house, waiting religiously to see the company from Wuppertal perform works that most people have not seen before in Ottawa. (Continue reading » )
Concept, dramaturgy, choreography Radhouane El Meddeb; Artistic collaboration Moustapha Ziane; Stage design Annie Tolleter; Music Jihed Khmiri, Production: La Compagnie de SOI; Tunis – Paris
A reflection on movement, music and chanting, this performance is about the pain of exile, the impossibility of return or of changing history. Radhouane El Meddeb, a Tunisian-French dancer and choreographer, dedicates his work to the people of Tunis, those who left and those who stayed behind. The central image is the sea towards which all the dancers’ gazes are directed. They come onstage, one by one, moving past each other, looking intensely at the audience, or rather at the sea.
In the first part of this one-hour show, there is not much action but rather tension and mistrust. The dancers move across the stage, stiffen their bodies, afraid to brush by each other, avoiding eye-contact. Their only point of connection is that sea, the gaze they cast towards the spectators. This sense of discomfort is transmitted to the audience as well: how do you react to action that is devoid of any internal movement?
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Marie Chouinard admits that this performance represents the “joy of bowing before a masterpiece (NAC program p.3) as she subjects her choreography to the spirit of Bosch’s Triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. The one dimensional language of the painter that spreads out on a flat canvass before us, marked by the visual esthetics of the Northern Renaissance , is given a new spirit on the NAC stage. Contemporary androgynous bodies moving in space with musical accompaniment, subjected to predetermined steps and a form of perfectly orchestrated chaos, reveal the enormous shift in creativity that was required by Chouinard to capture the spirit of Bosch’s three movements that inspired her work: The Garden of Earthly Delights, Hell and Paradise. (Continue reading » )
Photo: Celia Von Tiedeman.
Arrabal, now playing at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge in its U.S. début, premiered in Toronto in 2014. In its present state, it is a fascinating theatre experience, a political drama told without words via the tango and music. It is also an immersive show where some audience members, supposedly at a tango club in Buenos Aires, sit at tables downstage as well as on the orchestra floor, which had several rows of seats removed. In the first scene which takes place in the present spectators are invited to join the performers onstage for a tango lesson.
The joyous mood changes abruptly as the story begins. A projection announces that it is 1976, the year in which Isabel Peron’s government was overthrown by a right-wing junta. We meet Rodolfo (Julio Zurita), an endangered resistant, bringing his infant daughter to his mother who lives in a slum (arrabal in Spanish) outside Buenos Aires. He dances a tender tango with baby Arrabal (a word also associated with the tango) before putting her into the bassinet and leaving her a red scarf. (Continue reading » )
Le jardin des délices
Cie de Marie Chouinard
Photo: Sylvie-Anne Paré
Welcome to the 2017 Canada Dance Festival
New Dance from Canada’s best
The Canada Dance Festival in partnership with the National Arts Centre’s Canada Scene celebrates 2017 with a diverse program of new Canadian Dance. Following the successful CDF 2016 and building toward our next full festival in 2018, this year’s edition will showcase powerful movement and beautiful movers – all telling uniquely Canadian stories through dance. (Continue reading » )
With its 35 dancers out in full force on the stage of Southam Hall, les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal under the spell of choreographer Ohad Naharin has created a synthesis of some of his past work bringing together the musics and dancers of many origins. Almost the way Peter Brook integrated the Hindu epic with actors from all the continents, Naharin’s company Batsheva Dance, actually founded by Martha Graham, has become a meeting place for dancers from around the world, and now, Naharin’s recent creation sends us into a spiral of hybrid creativity that sets one’s head spinning. (Continue reading » )