Ballet Biarritz's Thierry Malandain, a neoclassical choreographer guided by music and story, is nothing if not intrepid. He used Beethoven's Creatures of Prometheus to set forth parallel histories of the Bible and dance in his recent 70-minute dance, Creation. His 16 dancers, with their hyper-polished technique and stage presence, are well rehearsed and even seem competitive in performance. All these ingredients comprise an evening of entertainment that, despite its ambitions and pretensions, felt superficial.
After a Genesis-like flash (the lighting design was by Jean-Claude Asquie), the dancers broke out of a diagonal column into a favored Malandain arrangement--an irregular matrix of bodies facing various compass points. They performed rudimentary ballet exercises, apparently the building blocks of dance. From there, they evolved through expansive curving shapes that emphasized their elegant lines and formed Busby Berkeley-style dilating clusters. They barked like dogs and glared at the audience, teasing out puzzled looks.
Some of the dance references were oddly blunt, like Loie Fuller's extended flowing wings and Isadora Duncan's toga gown and unpinned hair. Malandain combined these with obtuse, Cain and Abel, and company, the effect veered toward bizarre pageantry. At least Malandain deployed humor throughout, which helped prevent Creation from becoming parody.
The technically exceptional dancers have been trained to give 110 percent all the time. Even standing still, they were daring us somehow. But the choreography featured little fluid phrasing between one struck pose after another, making it a chain of exclamations rather than a meaningful sentence. And Malandain showed remarkably little invention with entrances and exits, instead relying on a flex-footed walk time and again, as dictated by the music. If only the choreography showed as much risk taking as the choice of subject matter. See www.balletbiarritz.com.
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|Article Type:||Dance review|
|Date:||May 1, 2006|
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