As is his habit, Aterballetto artistic director Amedeo Amodio looked to a literary source for inspiration for his new ballet. He settled on Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because of its theme of the intimate struggle between Good and Evil for the rule of human souls. Amodio worked with a similar theme in his psychological staging of Coppelia when he devised a new scenario based upon E.T.A. Hoffmann's gothic novel Der Sandmann.
In Lo Strano Caso del Dottor Jekyll e del Signor Hyde Amodio does not relate Jekyll's terrible experience by following Stevenson's plot step by step; instead, he gives to pure dance, with all its metaphorical power, the difficult task of summarizing the atmosphere and the moral of the story.
Amodio emphasizes his conception of the novel by situating the dancers on a shadowy and foggy stage that suggests a surrealistic dream (the striking lights are by Claude Tissier). Jekyll (Orazio Caiti) and Hyde (Guy Poggioli) disport themselves there in spectacular ways: their bodies cling to each other in sculptural poses that recall Michelangelo, while intricate movement combinations and continuous alternations of relaxation and tension describe the doctor's two warring personalities.
The corps de ballet is used to amplify the principal couple. In fact, the ensemble repeats the sequences danced by the soloists with mind-numbing regularity. This repetition points to Amodio's true problem: the lack of a personal and original dance vocabulary does not allow him to support seventy minutes of choreography. So he stages scenes that differ in mood and style but lack any logical coherence. Moreover, Jekyll expresses his suddenly emerging brutality (to Ravel's La Valse) with steps much too reminiscent of Twyla Tharp, and an abstract sequence imitates William Forsythe in both steps and score as Amodio suggests the choreographer and composer Giuseppe Cali brings to mind Thom Willems.
Concentrating on Amodio's choreography is becoming a real danger to Aterballetto's artistic health. The company is losing its famous brilliance and performs increasingly with a sort of stolid discipline. Perhaps the dancers need to work with various choreographers in order to broaden their artistry. Turning the company into a pale surrogate of other international ensembles is surely of no interest to the Italian dance world, much of which is lively and clever.
RELATED ARTICLE: INT'L VIEW
Farmhands and landowners complete and cooperate in folk dances, harvest suppers, and courtship rituals. No, this is not the American Midwest of Rodeo or Oklahoma! but the English county of Wessex in Far from the Madding Crowd, David Bintley's adaption of Thomas Hardy's novel for the Birmingham Royal Ballet (Birmingham Hippodrome, February 22-March 2, 1996). Bintley has set out to create a quintessentially English three-act ballet, ripe with rural nostalgia, for the company he now directs. Hardy's nineteenth-century soap opera tells of high-spirited Bathsheba Everdene (Leticia Muller), who owns her own sheep farm, and her three suitors. naturally, she falls for the cad, Sergeant Francis troy (Wolfgand Stollwitzer), who has already impregnated her maidservant (Rachel Peppin), with fatal results. There are juicy roles for the leading characters and plenty of opportuities for the corps to dance at fairs and festivities, some of which cry out for the pruning shears. Narrative demands weigh the ballet down: it's La Gille Mal Gardee without the fizz.
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|Title Annotation:||Teatro Municipale Valli, Reggio Emilia, Italy|
|Article Type:||Dance Review|
|Date:||May 1, 1996|
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