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Jo Tomalin
Dance & Theatre

Edinburgh Fringe: Weird & Wonderful Antiquithon

By Jo Tomalin
(Above) ANTIQUITHON Edinburgh Fringe Banner

Review by Jo Tomalin
www.ForAllEvents.com

Image of characters in ANTIQUITHON

A gem of a show – best 30 minutes at Edinburgh Fringe!

 

(l to r) Gwen Aduh & Aurélie de Cazanove
in ANTIQUITHON
Photo by P.Bosc

 

 

Shows 5 times a day – Tickets £5 and £3
Performance Times (August 1-23) at  13:30 / 14:05 / 14:40 / 15:30 / 16:05
Location: Institut français d’Ecosse (Venue 134)       Duration: 30 min
Suitability: 12+ (Restriction)

In the spirit of side shows of long ago, the French Company des Femmes à Barbe’s Gwen Aduh and Aurélie de Cazanove invite you to a mysterious bijou room. Here, they tell their story (in English) and show objets from their fascinating and macabre collection to a wide eyed audience. The characters are brother and sister and there is a noticeable sibling tension between them throughout as they interact directly to the audience.

image of Gwen Aduh in ANTIQUITHON

Gwen Aduh in ANTIQUITHON
Photo by P.Bosc

You are in a small Victorian style living room, with a twist. In front of you is an array of memorabilia in various boxes – and it sometimes takes a while to realize what you are actually looking at in the subdued lighting.

In a genteel to intense atmosphere Aduh is a dour, correct character in a black pin striped suit, who has seen better days – yet he shows you the objects with pride. Mainly silent, Aduh is brilliant, using his subtle physicality and facial expressions to communicate. Cazanove as a bon vivant hostess welcomes us into their home wearing a formal long dress, she is charming and hospitable. However, all is not what it seems to be…

Shows like this are rare and although Antiquithon (smartly directed by Martin Petitguyot) is small, it is never predictable. Therefore, go and experience this for yourself!

For more information:
Institut français d’Ecosse (Venue 134)
13 Randolph Crescent, EH3 7TT
Box office:
0131 225 5366


Jo Tomalin, Ph.D. reviews Dance, Theatre & Physical Theatre Performances
More Reviews by Jo Tomalin
TWITTER @JoTomalin
www.forallevents.com  Arts & Travel Reviews

Image Great Artists Steal (L to R) Mélanie Tanneau, Siva Nagapattinam Kasi, Cédric Mérillon. Photo: Theatraverse

Edinburgh Fringe: Theatraverse’s “Great Artists Steal”

By Jo Tomalin
(Above  L to R) Mélanie Tanneau, Siva Nagapattinam Kasi, Cédric Mérillon. Photo: Theatraverse
Review by Jo Tomalin

Wonderfully Absurdist Bilingual Play…

Image Great Artists Steal  (L to R) Mélanie Tanneau, Siva Nagapattinam Kasi. Photo: Theatraverse

Great Artists Steal
(L to R) Mélanie Tanneau, Siva Nagapattinam Kasi.
Photo: Theatraverse

New Absurdist bilingual French/English play Great Artists Steal written by Belfast based Seamus Collins and Directed by Joanne Allan is running at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival: The Space, Venue 45 on August 2-9, 11-16 and 18-23 at 8:35pm (20:35).

This fascinating well acted 50 minute play is set in the future after an unknown apocalyptic event and the three characters – The Woman, The Man and The Younger Man – seem to have regressed, prompting compelling questions about relearning how to live and the importance of inventing bread and even the wheel, in the spirit of Beckett with a touch of humor.

Image Great Artists Steal (L to R) Mélanie Tanneau, Cédric Mérillon. Photo: Theatraverse

Great Artists Steal
(L to R) Mélanie Tanneau, Cédric Mérillon.
Photo: Theatraverse

The Theatraverse company from France specializes in French/English bilingual theatre and often teach bilingual theatre workshops or conferences with their productions. All three actors and Allan, the company director return to the Festival after a very successful and highly praised run of Theatraverse’s Rhinoceros at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe. In this 2014 production of Great Artists Steal Allan collaborated with author Collins on the development of the play, and her staging  and design is influenced by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, Peter Brook, and Robert Wilson.

Image Great Artists Steal (L to R) Mélanie Tanneau. Photo: Theatraverse

Great Artists Steal
(L to R) Siva Nagapattinam Kasi, Mélanie Tanneau.
Photo: Theatraverse

Allan’s cast of bilingual actors are energetic, physical and precise. The Woman played by Mélanie Tanneau, is a strong and complex character who (re)invented singing and bread. Tanneau is vibrant, bold, sensitive and at times clownesque. Siva Nagapattinam Kasi is wonderful as The Man, an inventor, who is solid and strong, a bit naïve but with an ego.  Cédric Mérillon’s The Younger Man is smart and Mérillon plays him so well – fresh, lively, nuanced and charming. Interestingly,  the relationships among the characters change as the characters realize they have  feelings and inventions develop.

This is a production of quality and finesse, with a bit of quirkiness. Collins’s words play with language in a regressive and witty way, the actors are outstanding, and the director has created a spirited and stylish production that is ready for prime time. Go and see it!

For more information:
theSpace @ Venue45
(Venue 45)
63 Jeffrey Street
EH1 1DH
Box office:
0131 510 2381

Theatraverse
Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2014

   Jo Tomalin Reviews Dance, Theatre & Physical Theatre Performances

www.forallevents.com Arts, Travel & Lifestyle
Jo Tomalin, Ph.D.
More Reviews by Jo Tomalin
TWITTER @JoTomalin

San Francisco Ballet: Giselle

By Jo Tomalin

 

(above) Yuan Yuan Tan  in Helgi Tomasson’s “Giselle.” Photo: Erik Tomasson, San Francisco Ballet

Review by Jo Tomalin

Yuan Yuan Tan and Davit Karapetyan in Helgi Tomasson’s Giselle.
Photo: Erik Tomasson, San Francisco Ballet

Exquisite and Pure Giselle

The San Francisco Ballet 2014 Season opened with Helgi Tomasson’s Giselle, a beautiful production of the romantic full-length ballet, choreographed by Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa, Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli, set to Music by Adolphe Adam plus additional orchestrations by others.

Soloists, characters and corps were splendid in this two act ballet telling the story of fragile Giselle (Yuan Yuan Tan) a peasant girl who loves to dance and is being courted by Loys, a young man seemingly a peasant, but who is really Count Albrecht (Davit Karapetyan), in disguise. This soon becomes a trio of anguish as Hilarion (Rubén Martín Cíntas), a woodsman who is already in love with Giselle suspects that Loys is not his real identity and sets off to find out more about him.

Giselle’s mother Berthe (Anita Paciotti) warns her that if she dances too much she may fall to the same fate as the Wilis – young women who died before their wedding day doomed to spend eternity dancing in the other world.

Tan’s delightful fluid movement of her Giselle and her sublime fouettés en tournant followed by her exquisite duo with Karapetyan shows pure romance as they relate to each other so well. In their solos Karapetyan demonstrated his precision and prowess in huge leaps while Tan was angelic and beguiling grace with seamless phrasing.

A muscular Peasant Pas de Cinq in Act I was also sweet and well-structured as performed by Julia Rowe, Isabelle DeVivo, Emma Rubinowitz, Max Cauthorn, and Esteban Hernandez.

Tan’s transition as she is about to join the Wilis is natural and moving – her heart literally broken. She is so sad that even Hilarion can not help her as she weakens in Albrecht’s arms.

In the Act II pas de deux, Karapetyan and Tan perform another romantic, lyrical and mysterious partnering that is restrained and visceral.

Jennifer Stahl’s Queen of the Wilis is commanding and compelling as she leads the two Solo Wilis (Koto Ishahara and Julia Rowe) and her magnificent corps of Wilis. Cíntas’ Woodsman shows his dramatic and athletic skills in his exciting and emotional dances.

The scenery is bold and dramatic especially in the other world of Act II, costumes in Act I are rich in color and texture while in Act II costumes are gossamer light and ethereal, with Scenic, Costume and Lighting Design by Mikael Melbye.

Although the casts change from night to night, the perfect partnering of Tan and Karapetyan was very compelling and worth seeking out. The SFBallet is off to a great start this season – this was Program 1 and there are 7 more programs running until May 11th 2014. Highly recommended.

For more information:
SF Ballet: http://www.sfballet.org

   Jo Tomalin Reviews Dance, Theatre & Physical Theatre Performances

www.forallevents.com

Jo Tomalin, Ph.D.
More Reviews by Jo Tomalin
TWITTER @JoTomalin

Basil Twist’s Dogugaeshi in Berkeley

By Jo Tomalin
Above: One of the many layers of screens from Dogugaeshi coming to Cal Performances November 6-10, 2013 (PHOTO: Steve Menendez)

Review by Jo Tomalin

Evocative Dogugaeshi  by Basil Twist


Pictured: Basil Twist brings his award-winning production Dogugaeshi to Cal Performances November 6-10, 2013.

Award-winning  U.S. puppeteer Basil Twist performed Dogugaeshi, November 6-10 2013 at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Playhouse produced by Cal Performances.  This production is a Bay Area première, which was originally conceived and developed by Twist in 2003 with its World première in 2004 in New York through a Japan Society commission.

Dogugaeshi is a Japanese word for a system of beautifully painted screens that slide or unfold, quickly revealing scenery or patterns based on the backdrops of Japan’s centuries old traditional  puppet theatre. Twist has taken the concept of the changing screens or set changes and created an intricate non-narrative visual story infusing  his original artistry.

The one hour performance of Dogugaeshi starts with the traditional Japanese wood block sounds of Japan’s dramatic Kabuki and Bunraku puppet shows. Next, Twists creativity takes over – a curtain opens, a smaller curtain opens and an even smaller curtain opens…then we see a clip of old shaky black and white film, sound of the shamisen – an ancient Japanese stringed instrument – then a sequence of doors that get smaller. A candle and pointy eared white animal puppet with a long noble face appear at the front of the stage between gently moving waves with sound effects of water (Sound Designer, Greg Duffin). That’s all in the first few minutes!

Twist and his team of puppeteers (Kate Brehm, David Ojala, Jessica Scott) skillfully manipulate objects and scores of screens interspersed by video projections (Projection Designer Peter Flaherty) to create a rich magical sensory experience which continually surprises.

Screens appear, their painted images change magically to Dragons and tigers, or bamboo then abstract shapes. Kaleidoscopic changes go from vibrant colored patterns to a vortex of blue and purple swirls. Trees show the four seasons change with fast and slick transitions.

In mystical shadows tiny puppets grow in front of us to show delicate and poignant images of village life. Throughout the show,  there is drama, angst, and even a storm when giant windows float and hang on a thread of the deconstructed set.

Musical Direction and Sound Design by Yumiko Tanaka, the Shamisen is played live by Tanaka. In addition, traditional music makes way for show tunes, melodic and mesmeric soundscapes, and technomusic.

Exquisitely slow lighting transitions (Lighting Design by Andrew Hill) create the atmosphere of another world on the screens and especially on the shamisen and player when they appear on a turntable .

Basil Twist’s Dogugaeshi is a beautiful ballet of the screens – it’s also an evocative spiritual journey through time and place.

More information:
Basil Twist
Cal Performances

  

Jo Tomalin Reviews: Theatre, Dance and Movement Performances

ForAllEvents Reviews
www.forallevents.com

Jo Tomalin, Ph.D.
More Reviews by Jo Tomalin
TWITTER @JoTomalin

Labayen Dance Company: Fall 2013 Season

By Jo Tomalin

(Above) Daiane Lopes da Silva in En-GULF-ed Photo by Richard Baranyai

Review by Jo Tomalin

Sandrine Cassini & Victor Talledos in Stitched by Enrico Labayen
Photo by Andrew Faulkner

Rich Offerings from Labayen Dance/SF

Award winning Labayen Dance Company’s Fall 2013 Season opened in September at San Francisco’s ODC Theater with an array of eleven pieces, including four premiere works and several revivals.

This company is an important part of the San Francisco Bay Area dance scene because Enrico Labayen is not only a prolific choreographer but he is also a notable teacher developing new dancers and a generous mentor to several up and coming choreographers.  Each season it is evident that they have been hard at work creating new work.

Premiere Stitched, with choreography by Labayen , music by WuMan, and costumes by Ismael Acosta is a balletic piece with modern motifs danced by the accomplished Sandrine Cassini & Victor Talledos.  Their partnering is exemplary – they interact beautifully and really do seem to care about each other. Cassini en pointe with the strong Talledos – they both leap, stretch, support and mirror the other effortlessly. This is a solid piece to join the company repertoire.

 

Victor Talledos, Jaidah Terry and Ismael Acosta in Door Ajar
Photo by Andrew Faulkner

Door Ajar Choreographed by Labayen and re-staged by Michelle Lohmar presented the ensemble of eight dancers in vibrant lime green costumes with black edging, gauze midriffs and black strappy tops (Costumes Design by Ismael Acosta). The dramatic Lighting by Jose Ma. Francos (Lighting Design for the entire program) plus the variable soundscape music (melodic to scratchy or buzzy bee violin) by Forbidden Fruit created an evocative insect-like atmosphere.  The ensemble dances were completely in unison, sharp and agile with precise footwork – well finished off – in their surprising movements.  Smaller groups performed very fast turns to arabesques with beautifully angled arms and hands – or transitioned smoothly to languid music and movement. An exciting fleshed out dance piece.

Labayen Dance ensemble in Door Ajar
Photo by Anandha Ray

Hunger, a premiere choreographed by Laura Bernasconi is an athletic, intense male duo wearing black and white shorts and sleeveless T shirts with detailed necklines by Acosta. Through a series of balances and pirouettes a relationship evolves from this physical storytelling. They support each other with outstretched arms then “converse” with dynamic leaps in this strong, tender and warm piece set to Gabriel Goldberg’s live singing and melodic music.

Victor Talledos’ Secrets Like These danced by Leda Pennell is an interesting piece set to Diana Krall’s jazzy music. This is a well-structured dance very well performed by Pennell. She balances against a chair, then she skips with slinky movements punctuated with fouettés.  Talledos enters briefly at the start providing the opportunity for some flirty moments.  Secrets… is an appealing piece with a quick and witty ending.

Ismael Acosta in Kiss My Arp
Photo by Anandha Ray

Kiss my arp choreographed by Labayen is a premiere of a muscular solo dance with Ismael Acosta to pulsating electronic music by Andrea Parker.  Acosta demonstrates a range of skilled and supple movement starting with a body building look, intense twists, falls, fast yoga and then dance positions that works well with the music. His interesting costume – designed by Acosta himself – included leather body straps and black speedo.  This was the most daring piece of the evening and it was very well received by the audience. Therefore, it is worthy of more choreographic development.

Laura Bernasconi in Spirit of Intention “Anima San a In Corpore Sano”
Photo by Anandha Ray

Spirit of Intention, is a Work in Progress choreographed by Anandha Ray & Laura Bernasconi. Beautifully danced by Bernasconi, this is a beguiling and interesting dance based on eastern influences. Bernasconi is dressed in a grand costume with a feather headdress, beaded bodice and long pleated skirt gathered up in an abstract look. The eerie music is paired with the dancer’s hands and fingers in fibrous rhythms – then modern belly dance and turning movement to syncopated cello with laughter and breathing sounds. Sometimes bird-like, Bernasconi is always fluid with the music – a mysterious and fascinating dance.

Suzanne Saltmarsh in Labayen’s Is This Perhaps Death
Photo by Anandha Ray

Other pieces in the program were Labayen’s politically charged en-GULF-ed sensitively danced by Daiane Lopes da Silva, Bernasconi’s Nourishment danced by her and Acosta with grace, humor and strength in their relationship, Labayen’s lyrical Is This Perhaps Death?  featuring Suzanne Saltmarsh, Labayen’s FRIDA: A Broken Column set to a collage of wistful piano, guitar, flute and cello music danced emotively by da Silva & Diane Mateo, and Labayen’s recently premiered and refined Tears – a loving memory to his sister – superbly danced by the ensemble to Goldberg’s original music performed live.

Labayen Dance Company always shares a freshness of spirit and depth of thoughts and ideas in their programs. Look out for their next program early in 2014.

More information:
Labayen Dance Company: http://www.labayendancecompany.com

  

Jo Tomalin Reviews: Dance & Theatre Performances

Jo Tomalin, Ph.D.
More Reviews by Jo Tomalin
TWITTER @JoTomalin

Siobhan Davies Dance: “ROTOR” in London

By Jo Tomalin
(above) Siobhan Davies Dance: “ROTOR”  Photo by Jo Tomalin

Review by Jo Tomalin

Timepiece by Conrad Shawcross
(Photo by Jo Tomalin)

Fusion: Siobhan Davies Dance with Sculpture

In August 2013 the Siobhan Davies Dance Company performed three short dance/theatre pieces called ROTOR. ROTOR was devised as a counterpoint to a continually moving faceless clock sculpture – the Timepiece installation by artist Conrad Shawcross, at the historic Roundhouse in Camden, London, an arts and new media performance centre.

The twenty-five feet wide Timepiece Sculpture was suspended from the high Victorian dome ceiling in this mysterious circular space made of wrought iron and wood. Articulated electronically by gears and pulleys, Timepiece’s continuous turning movement was silent and smooth with bright lights on the ends of three narrow rods. Below, the audience members stood or sat around the edges of the vast open floor space.

Siobhan Davies Dance: ROTOR with Timepiece
Photo by Jo Tomalin

Four dancers began the first piece Live Feed (a play written by E V Crowe and directed by Ramin Gray) starting in a line in the centre – three female and one male. “Do it as you want” said one of the actor /dancers, “It’s a shift” said another, “Relaxed?” as they walked together around, going faster, slower, creating some conflict on their journey through words, direction and speed changes.

In the second segment – A Series of Appointments (Choreographed by Siobhan Davies), each of the four dancers mirror the movement of a clock hand as they approach the centre of the space then walk backward, silently  switching formations – chasing a partner – it seems random, but is it? They speed up, go forward and back, sometimes gliding across or exploding from the group. Then they change dynamics and slow down…almost floating for a second or two. This is playful time keeping.

 Siobhan Davies Dance: ROTOR with Timepiece
Photo by Jo Tomalin

In part three – Songbook (Composed by Matteo Fargion) the audience is asked to move to the centre, while the dancers stand with microphones making vocal sounds and moving rhythmically with strong gestures, claps and bends, counting and whistling. The sculpture moves above the audience, and its shadows suggest a sundial gently brushing each person. In the final moments, the sounds and movement become more abstract and physical – like an exaggerated form of absurdist sign language.

This was a fascinating, devised program of movement, dance and theatre, which was well received by the audience. The nature of the performance was certainly unpredictable – yet experimental work fusing art and performance is often found in leading European museums and galleries – and in this case Shawcross, Davies and the always provocative Roundhouse produced a creative interlude to make us slow down our own pace of life to experience time passing in a different way.

Siobhan Davies, prior dancer and well-known choreographer at the London Contemporary Dance Theatre leads Siobhan Davies Dance, which is one of the UK’s foremost contemporary dance companies. The Roundhouse has combined this dance company with Shawcross’ sculpture in an interesting series of dance/theatre and fusion performances – preceded earlier in August by notable choreographer Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance company and the Timepiece.

 

More information:
YouTube link to Conrad Shawcross’ Timepiece:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkSl7KlnQm8

The Roundhouse, London:
http://www.roundhouse.org.uk

Watch Siobhan Davies Dance: ROTOR
http://www.roundhouse.org.uk/whats-on/productions/siobhan-davies-dance-presents-rotor

Siobhan Davies Dance:
http://www.siobhandavies.com

Conrad Shawcross:
http://conradshawcross.com

  

Jo Tomalin Reviews:  Dance & Theatre Performances

Jo Tomalin, Ph.D.
More Reviews by Jo Tomalin
TWITTER @JoTomalin

National Theatre, London & Punchdrunk

By Jo Tomalin
Above: Laure Bachelot (Mary). Photo by Pari

Review by Jo Tomalin

Laure Bachelot (Mary) and Omar Gordon (William).
Photo by Pari

  The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable – London’s Cult Hit

The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable is the latest cult hit sweeping London. This creative play is co-produced by the award-winning Punchdrunk, a company known for its immersive theatre, and Britain’s renowned world-class National Theatre. Directed by Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle, the run started in June 2013, gathered momentum fast and will continue to the end of December, 2013, so you can still catch it if you visit London.

Inspired by Büchner’s fractured masterpiece Woyzeck, the story follows a couple (Wendy and Marshall)  through their imagination of a desolate Hollywood movie set in the Temple Studios, located near Paddington Station.

Fionn Cox-Davies (Marshall) and Sophie Bortolussi (Wendy).
Photo by Pari

This is a promenade performance where the audience is part of the event walking around as actors appear in fleeting moments of dramatic emotion and disappear just as fast. What is different in this production is that every audience member has to wear a gray Venetian style mask throughout the two to three hour evening – only permitted to take it off as they enter the bar for a break or when they exit the studios. This is unusual and it not only makes a natural separation between the actors playing characters, but it also looks eerily daunting as you look out at the sea of masked faces watching emotive scenes voyeuristically.

Jane Leaney (Dolores Grey).
Photo by Pari

Punchdrunk’s Temple Studios inhabit four immense floors of a now disused warehouse in Paddington. Each floor is a vast set that transcends into a netherworld-like environment that engulfs, surprises, jolts and excites. The lower floors are more like abstract art installations with eerie lighting design by Mike Gunning, vibrant pulsating soundscapes by Magnus Fiennes and Stephen Dobbie, and various objets and materials. Walking through the many doors, alleys then crossing large dark expanses on the lower levels is unnerving at first, yet the upper floors are full of remarkably designed and derelect movie sets to explore. Throughout the floors of Temple Studios the large cast of multi-talented actors are living their characters’ visceral, mortal moments on these retro movie sets, beautifully costumed by Jack Galloway.

Among the painstakingly detailed sets designed by Livi Vaughan and Beatrice Minns are small airstream shape caravans/actor trailers, abandoned production offices, a costumer’s studio with an unhappy actress, memorabilia, seedy motel rooms, a barber shop, a café, a bar with a male singer in sequined drag, a chapel, and a desert.

Sophie Bortolussi (Wendy).
Photo by Pari

While there is no set schedule of scenes to see, the deal is to be free to explore at will – alone – “to make your own movie” and when you find a character or two, observe and follow to see what they do next – or not. Most of the excellent fine tuned action is silent, physical or danced (choreography by Maxine Doyle), peppered with a rare song or spoken dialogue.

As the audience wanders around they may witness a happy couple, a visceral love triangle, deceit, sadness and more – however, the evening ends on an exhilarating tone with a clever twist.

This production is unique and brilliant. The moments experienced by participants often stay for days – but do not expect a linear story. In fact, if you go forget all of this, take the advice of Felix Barrett, Punchdrunk’s founder and separate from your friends to discover your own movie.

Don’t project or expect what may happen – or you will be disappointed. Just go and be, explore, enter every door – and like the actors at Temple Studios, live in the moment.

 

More information:

Trailer: The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZKNNMombV8

Punchdrunk Company: http://punchdrunk.com

National Theatre, London: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/

  

Jo Tomalin Reviews: Dance & Theatre Performances

Jo Tomalin, Ph.D.
More Reviews by Jo Tomalin
TWITTER @JoTomalin

Pina Bausch: Théâtre de la Ville, Paris

By Jo Tomalin
(above) KONTAKHTOF – PHOTO CREDIT Copyright : Olivier Look

Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal  KONTAKHTOF
(Photo Credit Copyright : Olivier Look)

Incomparable Pina Bausch Tanztheater at its Best!

Review by Jo Tomalin

Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal performed Kontakthof, June 11-21 2013, at the Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, France.

The legendary Kontakthof, premiered in 1978 by renowned choreographer Pina Bausch, is set in a dance hall and expresses the range of human emotions between men and women through humor, awkward seductions, tenderness, discomfort and sadness.

Starting with individuals standing close to the audience, a woman in a red cocktail dress checks out her side and front view in the imaginary mirror, a man checks his teeth and adjusts his hair,  someone chases a woman with a fake mouse across the stage…Kontakthof brilliantly explores the phobias of people in public.

A banal set comprises a large gray curtain with a high wall backdrop and several rows of chairs – Scenography and Costume Design by Rolf Borzik. Throughout two hour plus performance the women wear an array of beautifully tailored multicolored satin cocktail dresses and long flowy silk robes, the men wear elegant suits, complemented by lyrical and dramatic music selections by Juan Llossas and Jean Sibelius.

KONTAKHTOF
(Photo Credit Copyright : Olivier Look)

This is dance theatre at its best and there’s plenty of both in Kontakthof performed by this superb company.

Dancers enter and exit playing tricks on each other, dance together or alone, make suggestive gestures and undress – always with a wry smile. A chorus line of impressive dancers dynamically advances towards the audience, couples do discrete and sad yet saucy slow dances, and at times the entire ensemble dances with restrained fluidity with movement dissolving into stillness. Bausch’s choreography surprises us yet also has fascinating repetitive motifs and sequences performed by exceptionally well-trained and tuned in dancers.

Theatre is infused in relationships, dances and clever situations. Disappointment shows in body language of several characters when a child’s mechanical horse ride does not work – until realization that a coin is needed – so they approach audience members for coins. In another short scene actors sit in a row downstage and talk to the audience in their own language (english, german, french, spanish), while a dancer playing the stage manager holds a microphone.  A character walks around with a human size blow up doll getting reactions from onlookers…

These outstanding dancers are sexy, have perfect timing and invest themselves emotionally and believably in play and dance – transcending techniques to produce a piece of exciting visual sensory art that thrills audiences – the norm for this exceptional world-class company.

More information:
Théâtre de la Ville, Paris
Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal

   Jo Tomalin Reviews: Theatre, Dance and Movement Performances

For Critics World
www.forallevents.com

Jo Tomalin, Ph.D.
More Reviews by Jo Tomalin
TWITTER @JoTomalin

Rite of Spring (photo by Weidong Yang)

Labayen Dance/SF: San Francisco

By Jo Tomalin
Rites of Spring       photo (above) by Weidong Yang

Dramatic, Lyrical and Moving…

Review by Jo Tomalin Ph.D.
www.forallevents.com

Sandrine Cassini in Labayen's RITES OF SPRING ( Photo by Andrew Faulkner)

Sandrine Cassini in Labayen’s RITES OF SPRING
(Photo by Andrew Faulkner)

The Labayen Dance/SF 18th Anniversary Season production at San Francisco’s Dance Mission Theatre on March 15 – 17, 2013 presented several dance pieces, including one World Premiere – Enrico Labayen’s Tears – and one much anticipated US Premiere, Labayen’s Rites of Spring, which anchored the program.

Labyen Dance in RITES OF SPRING (Photo by Weidong Yang)

Labyen Dance in RITES OF SPRING
(Photo by Weidong Yang)

Imagine two red hand weights and three red folding chairs on stage while Igor Stravinsky’s melodic flute and violin music floats in as three women (Sandrine Cassini, Leda Pennell and Jaidah Terry) enter. They are watched by a guy (Victor Talledos) lying on the floor wearing a baseball hat, and there you have the opening mise en scéne of Labayen’s striking Rites of Spring. Labayen’s distinct choreography ranges from stark to stylized and is very well done. This is a theatrical and athletic Rites with perfect unison of the dancers as they stretch en pointe at gravity defying angles on and around the chairs. There are fascinating role reversals as the guy takes a chair and a girl watches him – while the other two girls flex their hand weights to the music then they all watch the guy’s mysterious sequence of leaps and turns. Red lighting design by Harry Rubeck complements the vibrant setting admirably. Rites is a sexy and balletic power play performed by all four dancers with precision, grace and combustible energy.

Labayen's TEARS (Photo by Weidong Yang)

Labayen’s TEARS
(Photo by Weidong Yang)

The evening opened with Tears (World Premiere) choreographed by Labayen and danced beautifully by Victor Talledos, Lena Pennell, Jaidah Terry, Karen Meyers, Yuko Hata and Keon Saghari. A meditative soundscape by Guest Artist Gabriel Goldberg complemented the sensuous and spiritual atmosphere and sculptured white fabric hanging in a pool of white light. Fabric was used among the dancers to help them twirl, lift, pull and balance eachother, effortlessly.

Sandrine  Cassini  & Victor Talledos in Labayen's TEARS (Photo by Andrew Faulkner)

Sandrine Cassini & Victor Talledos
in Labayen’s TEARS
(Photo by Andrew Faulkner)

As with all of Labayen’s work, there are deeper meanings to the core of the dance. In Tears he explores an emotional personal journey of his feelings for a beloved family member, who recently passed. This is a creative and moving piece that will likely become a mainstay of the company’s repertoire.

Ismael Acosta & Laura Bernasconi in Nourishment  (photo by Weidong Yang)

Ismael Acosta & Laura Bernasconi
in Nourishment
(photo by Weidong Yang)

Nourishment, choreographed by Laura Bernasconi was danced with pure control of adagio lifts by Ismael Acosta & Bernasconi to rhythmic off beat music by Gregg Ellis. This is dance acro with attitude and mischief. Amazing piece!

Desde lo Mas Profundo del Corazon Hasta el Limite de la Razon (translation: from the Depth of the heart to the limit of reason) is a fluid modern dance piece choreographed by Victor Talledos. Soloist Leda Pennell danced vibrantly with great extensions to music by Albert Pla.

Sandrine Cassini & Victor Talledos  in Cassini's Treize  (photo by Weidong Yang)

Sandrine Cassini & Victor Talledos
in Cassini’s Treize
(photo by Weidong Yang)

Treize, choreographed by Guest Artist Sandrine Cassini, an international dancer and choreographer,  was a very polished performance in every way. Cassini and Talledos danced this short playful and romantic piece with muscular lifts and yes, drags across the floor to Chopin’s Prelude #13. Fluid and precise – it’s a wonderful creation, leaving us hungry for more.

Chrysalis choreographed by Daiane Lopes da Silva is more developed since the last Labayen season production. The imaginative ‘out of the box’ theatrical concept involves a toy dog, a dancer in a red frilly lacy tutu looking for a dog sitter, several dancers in black goggles, yellow lighting, dripping sounds evoking an underworld, insect like creatures seeking food and a way out of the underworld.  The ensemble of dancers: Keon Saghari, Yuko Hata, Ildiko Polony, Michelle Kinny, Karla Johanna Quintero and Courtney Anne Russell do a fine job in this fast-moving piece which ranges from humorous to dramatic dance segments, complemented by the music of Per Nogard and Nine Inch Nails.

Awit Pag-Ibig (Translation: Love Songs) choreography by Labayen, and dancers Victor Talledos, Leda Pennell, Jaidah Terry, Karen Meyers and Yuka Hata. Seen in an earlier season, this piece looked better than ever. Set to beautiful music (Philippine Folk Songs arranged for piano & violin by Gilopez Kabayao & Corazon Pineda) often in a minor key, this dance piece is based on Labayen’s personal story of life, suffering and love, told well through his moving choreography and his dancers. The quality and unison of the four women was wonderful, showing precision and a great attack on the space while Talledos was muscular and lyrical in his duos and solos.

Victor Talledos choreographed Desolation, danced by Ana Robles & Ismael Acosta. This was a warm and romantic piece perfectly complemented by the soulful music by Sigur Ros. Robles and Acosta expertly performed the sustained expansive adagio duo with moody and joyous visceral movement.

This was a very successful season for the Labayen Dance/SF company. Award winning choreographer Enrico Labayen and his company of dancers and choreographers created a wonderful evening of dance that was particularly well suited to the space of the Mission Dance Theatre.

For more information
Labayen Dance/SF: http://www.labayendancesf.org/

   Jo Tomalin Reviews: Theatre, Dance and Movement Performances

Jo Tomalin, Ph.D.
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Critics World
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TWITTER @JoTomalin

 

Joffrey Ballet: Cal Performances

By Jo Tomalin
(above) Joffrey Ballet “After the Rain” Victoria Jaiani & Fabrice Calmels Photo Credit Herbert Migdoll

Visceral and Dramatic Joffrey Ballet

Review by Jo Tomalin

Joffrey Ballet “Age of Innocence”
(Photo Credit Herbert Migdoll)

The Joffrey Ballet, an award winning and renowned American dance company from Chicago performed to sold out performances at Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, Cal Performances, on January 26 & 27, 2013. This world-class company presents classical to cutting edge eclectic dance works with excellence, and tours internationally.

On January 26th the program included three ballets: The Age of Innocence, After the Rain, and The Green Table.

For ballet fans the opportunity to see a live performance of The Green Table, the antiwar classic by German dancer and choreographer Kurt Jooss, was reason enough to come, because it is performed so infrequently and is macabrely fascinating. Premiering in 1932 by the Ballets Jooss and subtitled A Dance of Death in Eight Scenes, this is an abstract expressionistic dance-theatre ballet in both choreography and visual design, yet with literal meaning about war. The scenes start with the pedantic diplomats uniformed in tight tailcoats and masked balding heads – the Gentlemen in Black – arguing. Then the scenes continue to the Battle, Farewells, Refugees, Partisan, Brothel, Aftermath and back to the still pedantic still arguing Gentlemen.

The striking discordant to lilting piano music by F.A. Cohen was played live by Mungunchimeg Buriad and Paul James Lewis and complements the craziness of the Diplomats, the athleticism of Death (Dylan Gutierrez), and the emotional and dramatic duo of a soldier leaving a young woman, as he goes off to war.

Joffrey Ballet “Age of Innocence”
Victoria Jaian & Fabrice Calmels
(Photo Credit Herbert Migdoll)

The Age of Innocence opened the program. This is a sinuous and sensual ballet beautifully danced by the company, choreographed by Edwaard Liang. Music by Philip Glass and Thomas Newman is at times vibrant, playful, dramatic and soulful. Costume Design by Maria Pinto are dreamy and flowing, all beautifully lit with Lighting Design by Jack Mehler, after Mark Stanley.

Two duos were standouts – the exquisitely danced duo of Jeraldine Mendoza & Mauro Villanueva – she leans and twists as he pulls, she glides, and balances – outstanding and achingly beautiful. Victoria Jaiani & Fabrice Calmels powerfully and sublimely danced the second duo, with a high level of precision, flexibility and impressive extensions.

Joffrey Ballet “After the Rain”
Victoria Jaian & Fabrice Calmels
(Photo Credit Herbert Migdoll)

Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain is set to the steely sounding music by Arvo Pärt and a palette of steel grey and flesh Costume Design by Holly Hynes.

Rich, warm tones of lighting and panorama by Mehler, after Stanley,Jo To perfectly coalesced with the wistful music of the last duo – longingly and lovingly danced by Victoria Jaiani & Fabrice Calmels. Wheeldon’s choreography and these dancers transported us to a beautiful space.

The Joffrey Ballet is a superlative company and this program was outstanding in every way. Highly recommended!

For more information:

Joffrey Ballet: http://www.joffrey.com

Cal Performances: http://calperfs.berkeley.edu

Next Dance Performances at Cal Performances, Zellerbach Hall feature the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, April 23-29, 2013

   Jo Tomalin Reviews Dance, Physical Theatre, and Movement Performances

Jo Tomalin, Ph.D.
More Reviews by Jo Tomalin

Critics World
www.forallevents.com