March 26, 2005
FEST IS A TRIP IN SPACE AND TIME
By Molly Glentzer, Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
This year's Dance Salad Festival artists
are from around the globe, but much of Thursday's program had powers
of even further transport.
Nacho Duato's 1990 masterpiece Por
Vos Muero (For You I Die), performed by the Norwegian National
Ballet, was a stellar time trip. An ode to the playful spirit of
Spanish Renaissance folk and social idioms, the dance is set to
a Garcilaso de la Vega poem. In spite of its clear geographic and
period references, Por Vos Muero resides in some alternate
universe of the mind.
This is thanks to the way Duato's delightful,
quirkily humanistic choreography plays out against a stunning Robert
Wilson-ish set — two huge red drapes, pulled at the center,
behind a folding screen with a shiny textured surface — and
Duato's ingenious use of white masks on sticks. A scene of benediction,
with a bevy of censer-wielding monks in lavender capes, is also
Jirí Kylián's Double
You solo, danced with thrilling intensity by Netherlands Dance
Theatre powerhouse Václav Kunes, got punch from a pair of
pendulums swinging in opposite directions. There's no better wit
in dance today than Kylián, a master of visual and verbal
puns. The program suggests that Double You might be about
present time. ("Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery,
but today is a gift.")
The pendulums made me think of a giant
metronome, only seen through double vision. Kunes' sinuous moves
sometimes mirrored their sway. And — maybe I'm layering too
much on here — while the dance was made in 1994 and European
Kylián doesn't have a president nicknamed "Dubya,"
I saw "W" imagery when Kunes ran upstage, parting the
wings of the big red downstage curtain in his hands.
A duet from Karole Armitage's newish
Time Is the Echo of an Axe Within the Woods was coolly
juxtaposed. Its silver-bead curtain made me think Kylián's
pendulums had been blasted into shards and hung in space. Mod ballerina
Megumi Eda was an electric presence, asserting her power like some
galactic goddess through Armitage's smooth-sharp choreography. (A
gold lamé leotard and Eda's severe brunet bob added to the
image.) A shadowy controller, the magnetically statuesque William
Issac, only slightly quieted her.
Sets weren't the night's only mode of
transport; some works flew on their organic relationship to music.
Sections of Alonzo King's new Before
the Blues got rivetingly under the score's skin. The ensemble
finale, Blind, especially: Here King captured with bodies
all the tension agitating under the melancholy, long-held jazz notes
of Pharaoh Sanders' Rivers of Memory. King's choreography
— and his dancers — were a marvel of sinuosity and strength.
Time slowed thrillingly as lovely Yanni
Yin of Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève channeled
Vaslav Nijinsky in slow motion — and the operatic scale of
Hector Berlioz's score — through her expressive arms in Michel
Kelemenis' Kiki la Rose solo.
Dominic Walsh Dance Theater's Bello
had the night's only live music. Countertenor Gerrod Pagenkopf sang
Handel's arias like an angel, while Walsh, Sara Webb and Paola Georgudis
(all from Houston) poured emotion into the movement.
Ballet de Monterrey's Huapango
drew on a familiar Mexican tune. The dancers were smooth, charming
and exuberant; but something was lost in translation with the fusion
of ballet and folkloric. BJM Danse's XSpectacle, a fun
and sleek urban jazz number, gave artistic integrity to moves inspired
by Janet Jackson videos.
to Concert 2005