Festival review: Cannes dance

The theme relates to the mythological body, its image, and dance/dancer's relationship with technology.

Dancers 311 (photo credit: Dee Conway)
Dancers 311
(photo credit: Dee Conway)
Like a sensitive seismograph, the current edition of the Cannes Dance Festival reflects, within constraints, its new artistic director Frederic Flamand’s thematic proposition for the bi-yearly event.
Flamand, among his other positions, leads the celebrated National Ballet of Marseilles, an innovative company known best for its collaboration with world-renowned architects like Zaha Hadid.
The festival’s theme, “The New Mythologies,” pertains to current cultural and philosophical discourse of the mythological body, its image, and dance/dancers’ bilateral relationship with technology.
Flamand, with his artistic inclination toward technology, the latest in new media performance, best presented by Japanese whiz-kid Hiroaki Umeda, as well as several gallery installations.
Quite a few choreographers responded to the call, transcending the safety of theater stages to venture into museums’ spaces, among them our own Ohad Naharin.
Without a doubt, the festival’s new maverick and biggest crowd-pleaser was Hofesh Shechter. The Israeli dancer-turned musician-turned choreographer moved to London in pursuit of a career as rock musician several years ago and found himself instead with an impressive career as choreographer, performing on some of the most prestigious stages of Europe.
His energetic, animalistic, highly energetic dance pulsates with strong vibes. His powerful cadre of dancers won him prolonged applause, screaming fans and a rare standing ovation at Cannes.
Both Shechter and Flamand’s companies are due to perform in Israel next season.
Another work that deserved all the attention it got was by the famous Canadian company of Eduard Lock, La La La Human Steps, which opened the festival.
Lock’s new work is a dazzling virtuoso journey, with some incredibly speedy spin-work on point. Israeli audiences discovered Lock’s physical, kamikaze style dance many years ago with his emblematic dancer Louise Lecavalier, whose mid-air vertical spins became synonymous with Lock’s unique touch.
His brilliant stratification of the piece through innovative lighting use and rich, textured music defies time and myth, and reaches to the core of dance.
Also on offer was Heddy Maalem’s all-African team’s rendition of The Rite of Spring, where extensive mating rites determine the survival of the fittest.
On the other hand, a more conceptual approach taken by Thierry Thieu Niang, performed by 21 people well over retirement age, managed to elicit a deep emotional response to their courage, persistence and individual beauty, proving once more that art is the most powerful pro-life elixir.