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Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
April 18th, 2012, 04:51 AM
I'm back from a performance of The Göteborg Ballet, from Sweden. Three pieces.

My impressions:

Piece 1, Beethoven's 32 Variations in C minor and Piano Sonata no. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, "Pathétique," 2nd. movement.
Choreographer Örjan Andersson.

In my opinion, a total failure. Eight dancers and a pianist on stage. No scenery. Very basic lighting, dark, misplaced, and unimaginative. The choreography is modern, fragmented, spasmodic, but the music is not (obviously), causing a profound divorce that is almost painful to witness. Dancers wear unattractive golden costumes. The whole piece seems unfocused and pointless, and ultimately boring and overlong. Not much happens in terms of expressiveness. The piece left me completely cold and uninterested. Applause at the end was very subdued and short.

Piece 2, OreloB. Music composed by Jukka Rintamäki, based on Boléro by Maurice Ravel. Choreographer Kenneth Kvarnström.

Very good. It opens with a huge mirror on the left side of the stage with the shape of a monolith, lit by a slice of bright light that reflects on it and projects to the right side of the stage like a laser beam. A dancer with a black costume with some sort of black wing dances on the beam of light. Another one - female - joins him. Two or three others come and go but the couple does most of the dancing, and it is expressive - it starts aggressive and adversarial, then turns sensual. The pounding, rhythmic contemporary music based on Ravel's Boléro is the answer to the misguided Beethoven of the first piece (they could have done something based on Beethoven, not Beethoven's music itself), and creates lots of growing tension. Enthusiastic applause at the end.

Piece 3, Falter. There are three musical pieces, all contemporary: Alva Noto: Particle 1 and 2, from the album UTP (Raster-Noton, 2009). Lars Akerlund: Excerpt from Rivers of Mercury. Peter Levin: Snow by the Lake. Choreography, set, and costumes by Johan Inger. Lighting design by Erik Berglund.

Spectacular! Extremely beautiful and expressive piece. The set is made of a "forest" of thick ropes hanging from the roof, everything is dark, but dancers carry bright portable lights that are either solid or stroboscopic. Dancers move in between the ropes, in ways that evoke crabs and insects. They seem disjointed and inhuman. The light effects in between the ropes are fascinating, and also lights are projected onto the ropes themselves making them change colors. Progressively these insects/crabs start to show more or less human movements as if they were learning to move as human beings. Meanwhile the ropes separate in two, with about 12 coming to the front of the stage, and 24 to the back. the space circumscribed by the ropes then looks like a cage or jail, with a large empty space in the middle of the stage, where dances start to run around in a very dynamic manner, with lots of simultaneous actions that attract the spectator's gaze left and right like in a tennis match. Costumes are everyday clothes - black pants, unremarkable shirts.

The music is sublime and uses a fair amount of percussion. Dancers become more and more human-like and start to dance to the rhythms of the music. A woman hesitantly tries to break out of the cage-like ropes. She is able to get outside, and then seems again to have poor control of her movements and to regress to bug-like moves. A man approaches the "jail bars" from the inside and seems to help her regain human movements although he doesn't break out of the cage. She comes back in but now she walks normally. They engage in a tango-like dance, and then the ropes start to fall from the roof. Their fall is musically interesting since the noise they make when they hit the ground adds to the percussion, and is a rather interesting sound, well integrated into the music. At one point they all finish falling to the ground, and we get again a huge, free space.

The dancers don't seem to know very much what to do with the new-found freedom. They seem disoriented. Then they get together in a large group which seems to bring them some comfort. They line up one behind the other. But then little by little and one by one, they break free of the line and seem to recover their own individuality. By then they look entirely human, and leave. A couple is left on the center of the stage. They approach and try to mirror each other's movements, but fail to do so, they can't find a synchronized way. But little by little, they do. Then they get closer, seem to communicate for the first time (the music by now is very peaceful), and then slowly, their hands touch. Lights off, end of the piece. The public erupts in wild applause.

I thought that this piece, Falter, was one of the best works I've seen in the last few years. Everything about it works: set, lighting, choreography, focus, pace, consistency, expressiveness, duration... it's a rather flawless piece of modern ballet with great music.

I wonder why the Beethoven piece is so much weaker than the other two, and why they picked it to be part of this performance. Certainly it leads gently to what comes next which is in crescendo, but still, the difference in quality and creativity between these three pieces is mind-boggling.

I almost left at the end of the first piece. Thankfully, I stayed, and was able to see this fascinating third piece.

Any opinions from our Nordic friends who may know this group and these musicians and choreographers?

I could not find a clip of these specific pieces on YouTube, but this other one by them has a similar style:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7DWJBOXjFQ&feature=relmfu

Aramis
April 18th, 2012, 10:43 AM
I wonder why the Beethoven piece is so much weaker than the other two, and why they picked it to be part of this performance. Certainly it leads gently to what comes next which is in crescendo, but still, the difference in quality and creativity between these three pieces is mind-boggling.

What? You mean pieces by themselves or the whole thing in general, with ballet included? Because I can hardly imagine piece based on Ravel's Bolero being on higher level of "quality and creativity" than that:


[Link to video deleted by Admin - video no longer available]

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
April 18th, 2012, 11:34 AM
Oh no, of course the music by Beethoven is excellent; I'm talking about the choreography associated with it by this particular ballet group, which in my opinion (and likely that of most of the public since applause was so subdued) was really far below the other two pieces. The choreography, not the music.

What I found inappropriate, was to play a straight Beethoven piece (beautiful, of course) and dance to it with modern dance choreography. The two didn't match. All my detrimental comments were about the dance, not about Beethoven's music.

For the Ravel, they re-composed a modern piece "based" on Ravel, and choreographed it with modern dance, and *that* worked.

HarpsichordConcerto
April 19th, 2012, 01:22 AM
I'm back from a performance of The Göteborg Ballet, from Sweden. Three pieces.

My impressions:

Piece 1, Beethoven's 32 Variations in C minor and Piano Sonata no. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, "Pathétique," 2nd. movement.
Choreographer Örjan Andersson.

In my opinion, a total failure. Eight dancers and a pianist on stage. No scenery. Very basic lighting, dark, misplaced, and unimaginative. The choreography is modern, fragmented, spasmodic, but the music is not (obviously), causing a profound divorce that is almost painful to witness. Dancers wear unattractive golden costumes. The whole piece seems unfocused and pointless, and ultimately boring and overlong. Not much happens in terms of expressiveness. The piece left me completely cold and uninterested. Applause at the end was very subdued and short.



Mixing the Beethoven solo piano with dancers on stage? Of course it's a total failure. Modern gimmick. :scared2:

Thanks for report. Enjoyable read.