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ANGELIN PRELJOCAJ GAMBLES WITH FOUR SEASONS

 

By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 2 NOVEMBER 2005—Angelin Preljocaj' new work, premièred at the Montpellier festival de Danse this summer, opened at the Théatre de la Ville in September. The chattering audience was abruptly silenced by the excellent new recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons , by the Venice Baroque Orchestra, suddenly blaring out in the fully lighted auditorium.

As the lights went down, two cellophaned robots marched into view, while nine black-robed dancers glided onto the stage. Strung onto wires above their heads, a bunch of grapes, a cloud, a pair of trousers and countless other apparently unrelated objects moved through the air. Dramatic and theatrical, we seemed promised great things. Yet somehow, as pleasant and pretty as the ballet proved to be, in an enclosed theatre the work dragged along, particularly during the all too frequent silences interspersed with the music.


Photo: © Laurent  Philippe

All the dancers were naked under their swirling cloaks, and as they turned to the back of the set to don their multi-coloured tee-shirts and shorts, a yellow top and red shorts, or a pink tee-shirt with orange bottoms, the question was, why? Somehow, somewhere, perhaps beginning with their nakedness, something did not go beyond the first pas de trois, two men and a woman,  to make this a memorable work.

Speed, arabesques, a harmonious pas de deux, with one dancer's movements being a continuation of the first, the troupe was neat and precise. If the choreography was a little empty, no matter, the music was there as a support. The problems arose when the music stopped, and the dancers performed to the noise of the spectators coughing and shuffling their feet, waiting for the music to begin again.


Photo: © Laurent  Philippe

Certainly, Preljocaj was taking a great risk with this music, and perhaps his choreography was not best served by the girl in a black swimsuit, eying the dangling objects, her patience rewarded when a pair of black, high-heeled shoes fell to the ground.

Moments of humour weren't missing with the arrival of four fluorescent green frogs. Hi Greeny, says the girl, you're so green, and yet this fantasy world inhabited by green frogs, hedges and men made of sponges was a little like T.V. zapping, with none of the ideas carried through or developed. There was a feeling of frustration for what might have been. There was no story, no theme, no emotion, no charm nor surprises. 


Photo: © Laurent  Philippe

The single idea of creating a work around the miscellaneous objects falling to the ground, from the bag of sponges to the beads and the rope could have worked, but it didn't. Maybe that was the point that I missed, but I felt quite relieved not to stay until all the objects clonked down.  

Patricia Boccadoro is the dance editor for Culturekiosque.com



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