BWW Reviews: LeSaar The Company
According to Ohad Naharin's biography on the Batsheva Dance Company's web site, his invention of the dance style GAGA is an "experience of freedom and pleasure. The work improves instinctive movement and connects conscious and unconscious movement, and it allows for an experience of freedom and pleasure in a simple way, in a pleasant space, in comfortable clothes, accompanied by music, each person with himself and others."
Perhaps, but after watching the LaSaar Company's production of "Princess Crocodile," which absorbs and pushes the limits of Gaga, I would say it's not gaga, just looney. More important, it's banal, not the most descriptive word you would like applied to any dance presentation.
I know I sound disparaging. But I put the question before you: Why was this work done? Dance, like anything, must have a meaning to be alive, to be choreographed, and to be performed before a paying audience.
The LaSaar Company has already held two residencies at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. I have always given Mr. Baryshnikov a great deal of credit for artistic integrity. Like all innovators, he wants to push the boundaries of dance--who doesn't, but there's a point when innovation flies out the door and idiocy reigns. What was Mr. Baryshnikov thinking?
More to the point, what was I thinking? After a while, just how to leave quietly. Who wants to watch robotics or dancers sticking out their tongues? If it were a funny Jerome Robbins ballet, by all means. I was also puzzled by the musical landscape used for the dance. We jump from Stravinsky to Mahler and a great deal of crashing contemporary music. Is there a hidden meaning behind all this? I suppose to mere mortals we don't get it. Still, since they were using different musical compositions, I wish they had thrown in some Robert Schumann, but that's another dance work completely.
LeeSaar began as an Israeli company, and is now based in New York. It has come a long way. It's been the recipient of many fellowships and grants and has toured extensively in the United States and Europe. I would like to ask why this company is becoming so prominently funded and given prestigious residencies. Other worthy companies are struggling, or just closing, and this one is becoming the new flavor of the month. Perhaps, like all flavors of the month, it will soon disappear. I know this sounds mean, but when you are left with a lingering thought that you've wasted an entire evening, your entire perception of dance and its place in our society becomes totally altered. Is it worth it? Is a company such as LaSaar the new paradigm of what we can expect in the future? I don't know if I'll be here in another 50 years, but wherever I am I sure would like to read anyone's dissertation or scholarly book on the company.
Photo: Julieta Cervantes