April 15, 2006
SALAD PROVIDES A UNIQUE MIX
Variety helps performances stand on their own
By Molly Glentzer, Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle
I felt a little like a Chosen
One on Thursday, danced to death like the sacrificial maiden
in "The Rite of Spring",
as the Beijing Modern Dance Company LDTX pounced savagely - and
pounced and pounced - to Igor Stravinsky's brash music in "All
River Red", a Chinese take on the theme.
It was a long night of stunning dances, as has become the Dance
Salad Marathon - er, Festival - tradition. You get a lot of dance
for your money here, but at moments it's too much of a good thing.
For high drama, it's hard to beat the Chinese
these days. In "All
River Red", choreographers Li Han-zhong and Ma Bo made 10
strong dancers seem like an army. They employed red scarves to
vivid effect as shrouds, flags, a wall, a huge jump rope and a
dragon dance puppet.
In Liu Qi's "Upon Calligraphy", members
of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company were powered by a beautiful
mix of grace and testosterone. After a video illustrated the
cultural gulf between computer-produced and hand-drawn script,
it wasn't hard to visualize the moving bodies replicating strokes
to the percussive music.
The night also offered some cool Eastern European
edginess. Stephan Thoss' "Thundering Silence", to music
by Antonio Vivaldi and Alessandro Marcello, was an abstract marvel,
marvelously danced by members of Hanover's State Opera Ballet.
A dozen Magritte-ish umbrellas suspended above the stage suggested
a netherworld. But the real magic came through the six dancers'
bodies in some of the quirkiest movement I've seen in a long
time, full of delightful nuances. (I loved the subtle hand flutters
against the stage, which sounded like birds beating their wings.)
Sometimes the dancers seemed like animals or insects; at other
times, they were like sky-borne puppeteers manipulating invisible
Danish Dance Theater's performance of Tim Rushton's "Silent
Steps" thrilled with its swift sharpness and dazzling, running
lifts. A brief voiceover about masculinity vs. femininity set up
some ponderous tension, and complex relationships unfolded against
the playfulness of the Johann Sebastian Bach music.
While those dancers sat on black boxes, the
Royal Danish Ballet's Silja Schandorff and Jean-Lucien Massot
dealt with a table, a chair and a troubled relationship in Petr
Zuska's "Les Bras de Mer".
The piece was evocatively danced, but too much about the acrobatics
with the furniture for my taste.
Ronald K. Brown's company Evidence was thoroughly
engaging in "Come
Ye, Amen", a structurally simple but masterful blend of celebratory
religion, African and American cultural history, strength and playful
Two classically based pas de deux showed off
the virtuosic charms of Dutch National Ballet stars Yumiko Takeshima
(with Cedric Ygnace in David Dawson's "Morning Ground") and Igone de Yongh
(with Altin Kaftira in George Balanchine's "Who Cares? The
Man I Love"). But so late in the program, after the excitement
of larger pieces, the works felt tame.
An excerpt from Trey McIntyre's ballet parody "Chasing Squirrel",
set to Kronos Quartet's "Nuevo", was enough. Let's hope
we see something more significant from his new company in the future.
to Concert 2006