Ballet Preljocaj presented a diverse triple-bill programme in Hong Kong as part of this month's French May festival organised by the Consulate General of France. The last work of Angelin Preljocaj that I saw was his ballet "Le Parc" for the Paris Opera Ballet.
The programme at the APA Lyric Theatre last Monday opened with an early work "Le Spectre de la Rose", which was an interesting parody by Preljocaj of Fokine's original ballet. Preljocaj divided the stage into two halves. Instead of a single pas de deux, Preljocaj has added two additonal couples on the left side, to complement the couple on the right side of the stage representing the romantic story of a young girl in love with a rose spirit.
Preljocaj seemed to have developed an innovative 'theme and variations' approach to the original story. At various points the bustling activity of the two couples contrasted with the stillness of the couple on the right. Sometimes the dancing on the left side had a pleasing rhythmic vitality. Preljocaj added a modern soundtrack to alternate with Weber's classical music.
The middle work "Annonciation" was a pas de deux for two women. Preljocaj was inspired by the biblical event of the Virgin Mary being informed by the angel Gabriel of her divine destiny. Mary was presumably represented by the tender white-clad dancer, while the more aggressive woman in black represented the angel. This was the most satisfying work of the whole evening. Preljocaj's expressive choreography was allusive and rich in metaphors.
The two women danced together in parallel in the beginning of the piece, their weighty movements achieved a sculptural grandeur. The ending was quite moving; the black 'angel' figure kissed the white 'Mary' figure goodbye and left her alone to face her divine destiny.
The programme ended with Preljocaj's new piece "Rite of Spring" created only last year. This Stravinsky piece was choreographed for six tribal couples dressed in a colourful assortment of contemporary clothing, and has already attracted a lot of attention in London two weeks ago because of the nudity in parts of the piece. The piece started with each of the female dancers each removing their knickers one by one, an activity echoed half-way through the piece by the men taking off their shirts.
As expected, Preljocaj's choreography had a lot of primal energy to echo Stravinsky's score, but the images didn't really accumulate into any discernible shape. The only memorable image saw the dancers divided into two groups massing inside a forest represented by the many green knolls. The second half had a solo for a nude girl representing the sacrificial victim in the original scenario of Stravinsky's score, but she didn't die in this new version of the ballet.
Last weekend another French modern dance troupe, Blanca Li Dance Company, gave a performance in the same venue. Blanca Li, a Spanish choreographer who last winter choreographed "Scheherazade" for the Paris Opera Ballet, is now the artistic director and choreographer of the Komische Opera Ballet in Berlin. Her 60-minute piece entitled "Stress" consisted of over ten comic sketches for a cast of seven female dancers and two male dancers. Some parts of the piece betrayed Li's influence by Pina Bausch. Overall it was an entertaining evening, if somewhat shallow in dance contents.
The evening opened with four white-clad female dancers each prancing about on a bed. The next sketch was done with the curtain half lowered so that we only saw the legs and not the upper body of the dancers. The most entertaining episode had a secretary answering about five to six phones simultaneously, leading to her being completely entangled by the phone wires and finally tripping over. However there was a rather vulgar sketch with a female dancer cleaning a toilet.
Other episodes included one in which the dancers'legs, hands and heads were covered by paper boxes, and another one in which four girls were each dancing with an artificial leg tucked onto her body. The rousing finale for the entire cast was totally chaotic, with some girls climbing onto the chandeliers hanging over the stage.