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  1. Gauthier Dance is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a new programme, “Big Fat Ten”. I saw the performance on Sunday evening. The programme started with a review of how the company was founded and, in a thoughtful gesture, showed rehearsal and stage pictures of all the company’s dancers past and present on two large screens on either side of the stage. The remainder of the evening consisted of 2 works that are new to the company and 5 pieces that were created specifically for the anniversary programme. With a total of 7 works, I liked some more than others (and much of it was more contemporary than I have watched in the past, leaving me unable to describe the movements in greater detail). It was fascinating however to see such a range of choreographers over the course of a single evening. Marie Chouinard’s Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune is rather different from Cherkaoui’s Faun which I had seen recently, but no less impressive. I hadn’t expected to like the piece, thinking that it would be too graphic for my taste, and yet I did The Violoncello PDD from Nacho Duato’s Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness followed and attracted massive applause from the audience Itzik Galili created a humorous new piece My best enemy. It features two presenters in dinner jackets who announce “the best ballet in the world” through fast and lengthy talking, accompanied by matching movements e.g., their arms go into 5th position every time they mention the word “ballet”. They are joined on stage by a female co-presenter, dressed as Marilyn-Monroe lookalike and carrying a small case that counts down the seconds from 60 to 0. The audience joins in for the last five seconds, and confetti rains from the ceiling. The two presenters continue to announce the ballet until they show the audience how they can switch off the programme – with a flick of their fingers. And so the two presenters click their fingers, and the piece ends. I’ve taken this piece as a parody of TV shows and the challenges an audience member may face in switching off the TV set once the interest has been created Alejandro Cerrudo’s new piece They’re in your head sees dancers in shades of washed-out grey dance in changing combinations of duos, quartets and larger groups. The piece has a dark undertone, dancers in a prone/ plank position on the floor and being lifted by others Johan Inger’s new creation Sweet, sweet shows three female dancers in shiny dresses dance initially along three straight lines from back to front of the stage and then increasingly across the stage (leaving established pathways?) Eric Gauthier created an entertaining new piece Ballet 102, featuring the – imagined – 102 positions in PDDs. With a structure similar to that of Ballet 101, the couple shows the different positions from 1 to 102, followed by a demonstration in random order, and with an amusing ending (no details here - no spoiler ;-). Among those were a position from R&J (Romeo dead on the floor and Juliet lying on top), Cranko’s Onegin (Tatiana asking Onegin to leave by pointing to the side of the stage, with Onegin crouched around her legs), Swan Lake (arms such as those of a swan) as well as a pose by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. The programme book also mentions Neumeier, Bigonzetti, Ek and Nijinsky – someone who is more knowledgeable than I am will have spotted these among the 102 positions, too Andonis Foniadakis’ new choreography Streams has dazzling visual effects. Dancers in golden pants/ golden leotards move in front of a curtain consisting of golden tinsel or beads. These move gently in the air and, together with the shadows created by the dancers in ever-changing formations provide stunning pictures. Foniadakis has posted a short extract on instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BRBMR5nAAob/?tagged=gauthierdance The company will perform a mixed bill in Ottawa next weekend and Nijinsky in New York later this month. There’ll be further performances of Big Fat Ten in Stuttgart in May and in June.
  2. Just when I wasn’t going to post about all the performances I am seeing abroad … the list of dance links on Friday included a review of the mixed programme in Nice that finished yesterday (thank you, Ian Macmillan). The review on DanceTabs is very detailed, and I am thus keeping it to some comments about the performance that I saw last night. Le grand pas classique from Raymonda. Compared to the version in the ROH repertoire, Vu-An’s version is a little shorter, adjusted in the number of variations to the much smaller company, and equally adapted to the smaller stage in Nice. This is a wedding of pride, prestige and honour - love didn’t seem to feature, not for the bride and groom (Gaëla Pujol and Théodore Nelson, as on the opening night) nor for any of the wedding guests. Dance wise not really my style as too classical and inviting applause after every solo. I preferred most a male quartet with double tours en l’air followed by entrechats followed by double tours en l’air and entrechats and … Gnawa. This was hypnotising in music and movement. Two group sections with a long sensual PDD in between. The music included drums and the sounds of birds, and invited moving to the rhythm of the music in one’s seat. Veronica Colombo and Mikhail Soloviev in the lead roles were superb. The review on DanceTabs mentions that Mikhail Soloviev is new to the company in Nice. This may be relatively new as he was already there when I first saw the company in April, and a search for his name on the web also shows him with the company in 2013. L’Arlésienne. This is new to the company in Nice. Wow. Fabulous. Magnificient. Splendid. I was watching in utter disbelief at how marvellous the performance by the lead couple - Zaloa Fabbrini and Alessio Passaquindici - was; both in acting and dancing. They made the story to truly believable. I sat there open mouthed and with baited breath, and I felt so incredibly sorry for the two of them. Eric Vu-An has published extracts from a general rehearsal on his public facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Eric-Vu-An-383731904998106/?fref=nf Last night confirmed that this is one of my favourite companies in France. I really like how Vu-An expands the repertoire and develops dancers from within the company, and how much he is able to achieve with a company of just 26 dancers. The new soloists were all promoted from within the company at the end of last season, and the new dancers all joined at corps de ballet level. I do hope that the success that he is able to generate will allow him to grow the company in size at some stage in the future and in doing so, add a few more performances across the year. I can’t wait to be back in April for the next mixed programme, which will include Jiri Kylian’s Sinfonietta and Liam Scarlett’s Vespertine.
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