BWW Review: Centre Choreographique National – BALLET DE LORRAINE Makes its Debut at New York City's Joyce Theater
This contemporary Dance Company from France, currently under the direction of Peter Jacobson, a former principal dancer for Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet, embarks on its first ever US tour. On Wednesday, February 10, 2017, I attended the first performance of the Ballet de Lorraine's Program B at The Joyce Theater. This program has one piece only, Unknown Pleasures, an intriguing title. No choreographers, music, lighting, nor costumes were credited.
Program note: "Unknown Pleasures invites five diverse international talents to collaborate in a one-of-a-kind adventure where all have agreed to create a work that they will never sign. An anonymous program of mystery - no names, no fame, and no glory - a carte blanche has been offered to the creators as well as the public, that encourages them to experience an evening of dance unencumbered by preconceptions."
Dancers were on stage, some holding panels of colored gels at the front of the stage, as the audience entered the theater. The brick wall at the back of the stage was exposed. When the house lights went dark, some movement began, as well as some singing of words in a language I did not recognize (and I am fluent in French). The panels were removed and a large group of dancers, wearing dark jeans and white T-shirts, each with a letter on the front and another on the back, and white socks. The music was mesmerizing and the movement was repetitive, dancers turning one way, then the other, then the other, then the other... One wondered if the letters would spell something. Perhaps they did at one juncture, for a flash. Some dancers looked like they may have technique while others looked decidedly amateurish.
The next section, performers still dressed in pedestrian clothes, although having changed costumes, seemed to be experimenting with weight and odd movements. The following section dressed dancers in golden yellow unitards and leotards with sheer black tights and black socks. There was no apparent flow or passion to the movements, which sometimes broke off, fizzling out. Were they out of steam (imposed by the choreography) or had there never been an intention of flow? A couple of the better dancers entered briefly, wearing other pedestrian clothes and athletic shoes. Then, abruptly, that section ended.
Hearing Ravel's Bolero, my attention was peaked. Bare-chested men in dark jeans and bare-legged women in black shorts and shirts entered the stage wearing black shoes. We were treated to rhythmic jumps by some. The group did ball changes with hips thrusting forward, repeatedly.
Lastly, a man wearing light colored pants and a light grey sports coat made his way to center stage, did some quirky movements, for a short time.
I found myself wondering if this anonymous work was a commentary on the chaotic style of life today. It all seemed bizarre and disappointingly, not my cup of tea.
The Ballet de Lorraine will continue to perform both programs at The Joyce Theater through February 12, 2017.
Photo credit: Bettina Stranske