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Gauthier Dance, Big Fat Ten, Theaterhaus Stuttgart/ Germany

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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.


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