The evening opened with a rendition of a short piece by William Forsythe, a maverick, best known for his brilliant creations that redefined contemporary dance in the last decades of 20th century. Since then, his name on any company’s repertoire’ list equals a golden star. He once declared that Ballet is dead, yet his own career belied this statement since he sucked up basic balletic conventions for his creative needs for years.
His The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude set to music by Schubert is a fast, demanding piece that requires stamina, virtuosity and style, yet its middle name is exactitude, which we had too little of. Danced by two strong, mature male dancers and three female dancers, that was not up to the demanding technique, style and required precision. As homage for legendary Balanchine, they needed to have the speed, hyper control and stylistic finesse attributed to Blanchine’s dancers and the physical traits of Forsythe’s unique body perception, but unfortunately, those were missing.
Alexander Ekman’s work CACTI was a relief, a pleasant young-in-spirit dance that showcased the sparkled side of the group. It seemed to fit the energetic cast, while the clever set design was composed of 16 low movable steps, defining the personal space of each dancer. They used it well, performing various poses, often in unison rhythms. The overall stage seemed lively and very pleasing. Four musicians accompanied them, trying to find a way to play without interrupting the movement.
Spreading the wooden squares further, enabled more interactions and enrichment of the visual impact of the white units, now serving as shields. Eventually, the well-defined work took a turn as the dancers constructed an installation or a memorial monument from the deconstructed set and the ambiance became more unsettling. Poetic and philosophical messages were whispered, and the activities hinted to darker, more serious moods. Gone were the exciting, fun and humorous flavors.
The cacti actually arrived in the end, as gifts or a riddle.
The Rite Of Spring
By that point, the audience was prepared for the evening’s highlight, namely Edward Clug’s version of The Rite Of Spring, originally choreographed in 1913 by Vaslav Nijinsky and set to an Igor Stravinsky avant-garde score, which caused mayhem at the time.
There are literally endless dance creations in the past century set to this mesmerizing music, which relates to an ancient Russian myth referring to an annual rite of sacrificing a virgin to ensure the coming of the spring, a symbol of nature and life’s cycles.
Most of the variations of the original ballet from Maurice Bejar, Pina Busch and onwards, celebrated the lavish sensuality of the tribal rituals. The spiced-up dances and Stravinsky’s music intoxicated generations of artists, dancers and audiences.
Clug tried his hand, as did multitudes before him. His creation has all the right ingredients and striking moves, but he wins the extra edge by counting on light and set designers Leo Kulas and Tomaz Permzl, who managed to turn the stage into a pool of water under tender waterfall veils, creating striking visual effects while allowing the dancers to discover original ways to move about on stage.