THE ISRAEL FESTIVAL performance of ‘Kindertotenlieder.’.
(photo credit: MATHILDE DAREL)
Untitled by Tino Sehgal
By Gisele Vienne
Jerusalem, June 7
Watching both works consecutively accentuates the width of the contemporary dance field beyond their thematic or artistic tools.
The dance-based solo Untitled
by Tino Sehgal reflects a point in time when the apprehensive vibes at the turn of the millennium caused many to look back and sum up the previous century, while looking with hope at the future.
For this solo, performed by impressive veteran dancer Frank Villense fully naked, Sehgal handpicked movements and gestures from prominent dance figures who influenced the expanding boundaries of what was previously known as ‘modern dance.’ Luminaries from Isadora Duncan, Nijinsky, Kurt Joss through Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Pina Bausch, Trisha Brown and more, surfaced between the moves, reminding what an exciting era it was particularly for dance among the stage arts.
Sehgal’s sophisticated, daring and humorous creation brings to mind choreographer Dominique Boivin who preceded Sehgal with his own solo La Danse (1991-2001), a most entertaining and very different review of dance’s evolution in the 20th century.
Watching the way Villense integrated the fragmented quotes within a well-established artistic frame was a delight. The dancer enjoyed liberty to adjust the materials within his wide comfort zone, and also found space for improvising movements and text, which reflected assurance, self-awareness and a mischievous nature. Untitled ended while he toyed with his private parts, which sprinkled water all around the stage.
Taking herself so seriously, Gisele Vienne contrived a theatrical punk piece which deconstructed a story about a murdered youngster by his best friend. It was pretentious to use Gustav Mahler’s canonic song cycle Kindertotenlieder (Song of the Death of Children)
, as the work’s title of that contrived work.
The stage simulated an open yard on a snowy day. Most figures on stage turned to be man-size dolls serving no purpose. Out of five dancers, only three were present, along with two black metal and dark ambient musicians. Since the way the choreographer chose to convey the gory story of murder and rape by giving each performer an interchanging point of view, and dictated slow and limited movements, the deafening music and stage design were left to do most of the work, which wasn’t much help. There is hardly a chance that with the two absent performers, the work could’ve been saved.