Saturday, September 30, 2006


Last night we saw a triple bill of dance set against the music of Steve Reich at the Barbican. Part 1 was performed by Rosas, featuring Tale Dolven and legendary 46 year old Belgian choreographer and dancer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker who danced to Reich's Piano Phase and Violin Phase. During Reich's Phases, as described by Wikipedia:
"the performers begin by repeating a rapid twelve-note melodic figure in unison. One player continues, keeping tempo with robotic precision, while the other slowly speeds up until they are lined up, one sixteenth note apart, and then resumes the previous tempo. The cycle of speeding up and locking in continues throughout the piece, with a new figure being introduced once the original figure has come full circle".
The performance by Rosas unfurled rhythmically, with the two dancers spinning in and out of unison on a minimalist stage, whirling in and out of white light and black shadows in hypnotic response to the recorded music.

Part 2 featured the Richard Alston Dance company who performed to a live synthesis of Perotin's 12th century Viderunt Omnes and Reich's "speech melody" and "medieval polyphonic" Proverb. This was a much more conventional and disappointing performance with the male dancers in tights prancing like so many impish Pucks across the stage. I was reminded by turns of A Midsummer's Night Dream and Spike Jonze's amateur troupe dancing whimsically in the shopping mall of Fatboy Slim's Praise You video. I was so uninspired that all I could do was "package watch" in between the yawns.

Far more explosive was Part 3's Akram Khan Company, dancing to a live London Sinfonietta performing Reich's Variations for Vibes, Piano's & Strings, which Reich wrote specially for Khan. The Akram Khan Company danced with hard, masculine vigour, sparring with the musicians and whipping everyone up to the night's only standing and rapturous ovation. A triumph.

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