BWW Review: Gauthier Dance/Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart Brings Nijinski to New York City
Gauthier Dance Opened Wednesday, March 15, 2017, having been snowed out the night before, at the Joyce Theater. They delivered a performance of great worth, making me glad I had been able to make it.
Eric Gauthier, Artistic Director, former soloist with the acclaimed Stuttgart Ballet, created Gauthier Dance about ten years ago, the First Resident Contemporary Dance Company in Stuttgart, Germany. Most of their performances consist of several shorter pieces. The Joyce Theater chose to bring this full length, hour and 20 minutes' work, Nijinski, choreographed by Marco Goecke, Resident choreographer of the Stuttgart Ballet and Associate Choreographer of Nederlands Dans Theater, in the Hague. "Goecke has emerged as one of the most sought-after choreographers worldwide-renowned for his poignant, avant-garde dance language with which he breaks down aesthetic boundaries." He has been awarded and been nominated for numerous prizes. The often-frenetic movement and unusual, repetitive arm movements could become hypnotic. Goeke's musicality added to the spell-binding nature of this work. Music for Nijinski was that of Frederick Chopin, Claude Debussy, and Libana, Russian Lullaby (haunting women's voices for the dream sequence).
The ballet portrays dancer and choreographer, Vaslav Nijinski, "touching on significant stages of his life on and off the stage, showing how closely art and madness are related." Nijinsky is an important figure in dance history, having made his mark dancing with the Ballets Russes, founded by Sergei Diagelev. He is well known, too, for having become mentally unstable. The stage is generously lit from above, lending a feeling of being in an asylum. Important figures in Nijinsky's life, from birth to death, made appearances in the ballet: his mother, Eleonora; his future wife, Romola de Pulszky; Diagelev; and others. Some of the ballets for which he was famous found their way into the work, sometimes through the veil of his madness: Petruschka, L'Apres-midi d'un faune, and Le Spectre de la rose.
The dancers are top level professionals, classically trained dancers. The focus/100% commitment throughout was palpable. In the hour and 20 minutes without intermission I never blinked, never lost interest. The pace was a constant flow. Nijinsky, played brilliantly by Rosario Guerra, is not depicted primarily by the bravura dancing we may attribute to this star of old. Instead, his relationships, his psyche, his madness, his sexuality, including masturbation (which made him unpopular in his time) were explored. Upon arrival on the stage, David Rodriguez, did not seem like the well-known pictures of Diagelev, with one exception, the fur trimmed coat. Somehow, Rodriguez took me in, making me fully buy his portrayal. I found the piece fascinating.
Gauthier Dance//Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart presents works by internationally renowned choreographers such as Mauro Bigonzetti (whose Alice, a full-length narrative ballet, I would love to see), William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Itzik Galili, Paul LIghtfoot/Sol Leon, and Hans van Manen. I am left hungry to see more of this company, which, I understand, has a diverse repertoire.
Nijinski can be seen at the Joyce Theater through March 19, 2017.
Photo credit: Regina Brocke