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Subject: "Lyon Opera Ballet, Part II May 5, 2002" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2709
Reading Topic #2709
Renee Renouf Hall

07-05-02, 04:55 AM (GMT)
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"Lyon Opera Ballet, Part II May 5, 2002"
   Back to Lyon, the two remaining pieces on the program I saw were Gaspard by the Finnish choreographer Tero Saarinen and Meryl Tankard's version of Bolero. Both were stunning works, if Bolero was more predictable.
Because Gaspard started slowly with inumerable repetitions, I thought "Ah, ha, we are going to get minimalism," with almost no turning in a minimal pas de bourree. The men had white shirts with a pleat down the back, the three women had dark diaphonous tunics which ballooned out from the chest as if they might have been an adapted design from Dutch paintings or even the traditional Korean hanbak (I think that's the term)At the shoulders there were slight distinctions and among other things I thought of images of women of Provence. Two women were down stage right,one woman upstage left, the two men in between. Several of them were either profile or back to the audience. All were in slippers. Slowly, to the deliberate qualities of the music, the body positions began to shift, the arms began to display third position en haut and some variations and the steps began to elongate, until the various individuals began to be engaged.
Then the women began to shed their diaphonous tunics to a bulky
off-white shift with uneven hems, looking all the world like
a behind-the-scenes pregnant shifts or slatternly covers for care and labor-worn women.

Over the ballet, there was a small section where one or more of the women was engaged, principally by Pierre Advokatoff. At one point I felt he was managing a menage a trois. During one supported passage, one of the women looked as though she was being passed between the two men just for sexual purposes. All the classical vocabulary was on view, but certainly not the conventional emotions of cavalier to ballerina, if the demeanor did not slop or segue into violence.

Then Advokatoff, a small, spare and agile figure, began an extended solo passage clearly based on Asian martial art forms, the elegant stance, the sculpted arm positions, the rapid turns, almost violent at times, to return to the same "on the alert" posture. While repetitious, it was so elegant I could have watched it all night. The effect of his solo passage, though he interwove with the dancers from time to time, provided the sharp distinction of male vs female activity, seconded by Jere Nurminen who gradually became more a part of the ensemble of women.

The harder one tried to grasp an emotional thread, or pick up an icon or symbolism to swing from mentally, the more such coherence eluded the spectator. If Saarinen's aim was to confound an audience's expectations, he definitely succeeded.

Simpleton that I am I felt most at home and most responsive with Tankard's reading of Bolero, performed entirely behind a scrim back lit, and filled with the silhouettes of Spanish cliches gliding in and out of images of Moorish arcades, bleached and patched walls of off white and warm and worn brick red. The audience initially is treated to a cut out creature with a toreador hat and bell-shaped skirt ending in a lace paper cutout hemline, moving her arms in railroad signal precision to the tempo,slipping in and out of the arcades, getting larger as she moved from stage left to stage right. This went on single file and then the images began to group before they changed to the woman with the elaborate comb, long earrings, hair in a bun and torso arched, sporting a fan. Along the way came a small young woman with loose hair from stage right obviously in search.
A young man came from stage left who seemed to be pulling either a fishing line or a boat. He paused, got down on his knees, cupped water in his hands and drank. They passed each other with out a direct encounter. Then the belled skirts became humungous and menacing. A young woman encounters a man standing legs apart, quite macho and gives him quite the whack,sending him packing. There also was a passionate embrace between two others dancers. These images continued as the tempo intensified until at the end they were flinging themselve forward and back, enlarging, retreating, but all obviously along lines revealed at their bows, a series of V's and vertical lines across the stage.
It was one of the first times I watched an interpretation of this
monotony saying to myself "Oh, what is going to happen next?" Ole,Ole, Tankard!

Lyon, come back and while it's limp, let me say, let us lionize you!


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