Dance Review: Lyon Dance Biennale

If the end result was not a breathtaking, butts-glued-toseat affair, one could call this work modest.

‘SUNRISE’ BY Emanuel Gat (photo credit: MICHEL CAVALCA)
‘SUNRISE’ BY Emanuel Gat
(photo credit: MICHEL CAVALCA)
Celebrating its thirtieth year, this year’s edition of Lyon Dance Biennale is also the first bona fide calling card of choreographer Dominique Hervieu, the artistic director, whose accumulated preferences refreshed this edition.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, she was asked about her obvious interest in the New Circus phenomena: “I am interested in the merger of circus arts and dance, as well as other borderline areas where dance meets various disciplines. On next editions, I want to examine more directions. I feel that dance today is free from the rule of conceptual dance, as some hard core conceptualists had softened.”
Several impressive works by so-called new circus companies at the Biennale, stretched their artistic ambitions toward new horizons, where the acrobatic skills are sometimes played down, and used selectively within specific contexts.
Among them was James Thiérrée, with his Tabac Rouge, a dance theater concoction, that weaves a wild tale of a ruler with borderline personality disorder in a crumbling kingdom, trying to hold on to his past, as passionately as he attempts to hold on to his fading sanity.
The crowded set of towering metal walls and lattices moves, turns and falls apart as often as some characters.
The fast changes, the swift moves on rollers of people and grotesque furniture is oppressive, yet dazzling with ingenious craftsmanship. We witness the remaining debris of a universe born in hallucinatory state. Thiérrée, a grandson of Charlie Chaplin, is himself a rare, outstanding performer.
On the opposite end of the former grandioso affair, is Celui Qui Tombe by Yoann Bourgeois, an impressive show, brilliantly executed, yet contains no pyrotechnics or performers’ self indulgence.
If the end result was not a breathtaking, butts-glued-toseat affair, one could call this work modest. Yet, it is probably the most sophisticated piece of dance I’ve seen in a while. Bourgeois built a 6x6 m. stage, hung on four cables from the ceiling – perhaps 3 stories high – at Lyon Opera House. The faint first light exposes a slight stir of bodies sprawled on top, and suddenly the cables squeak, as the stage slants and dancers slide to its edge. Later, the stage rotated fast in mid-air, and the performers needed to adjust their body to maintain equilibrium, by using centrifugal forces to their advantage. Usually movement is motivated by the body, while here, movement is determined by outside physical forces. This walk-onthe- edge, mind-blowing creation, literally takes your breath away.
Shows that left deep marks and will definitely be remembered for their exceptional stage personae, include a work by choreographer Rocio Molina, a foxy lady who took traditional flamenco and with gutsy wit, revolutionized it to fit her energies and daring drives. Molina will perform at Suzanne Dellal in a few months.
The second is the ever-provocative François Chaignaud, who has already broken every taboo on stage.
Here, dancing in a seethrough skirt, he performed a faux ethnic dance with stuffed doves, rooster and pheasants headpiece, and entertained us with his singing talents. Chaignaud, who was much expected to star in this summer’s Diver contemporary dance festival, canceled due to the unrest, and broke some hearts.
Last but not least, are the Israelis who work abroad.
Emanuel Gat opened the Lyon Opera ballet program with Sunrise, a truly abstract work, delicately detailed with complex phrasing and beauty.
With directorship of one of the national choreographic centers, Yuval Pick is doing quite well. His small company is diverse and unique, and he seemed rather content.
Our third emissary-byproxy to the Biennale, was Roi Assaf, a talented dance maker, who created a piece for the company of Benjamin Millepied, celebrity choreographer of the movie Black Swan, and husband of Israeli- born actress Natalie Portman.
Unfortunately, I missed this one.
As one of the largest dance festivals in Europe, with over a dozen different events per day, Lyon’s festival needs to reinvent itself with each edition.
Here’s hoping the next one will be just as challenging and raise the bar even higher.