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Ballett am Rhein, Mixed Programme - Pacific/ 44 Duos

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Ballett am Rhein performed a double bill in Ludwigsburg, just north of Stuttgart, last Saturday - Mark Morris’ Pacific and Martin Schlaepfer’s 44 Duos.

Pacific is set to Lou Harrison’s Trio for Violin, Violoncello and Piano. The piece followed a structure of initially 4 men, then 3 women, followed by a couple and then groups of varying combinations until all dancers were on stage towards the end. Movements were flowing, loose, musical, with a combination of classical base (e.g., repeatedly double pirouettes, jetes entrelaces) and modern dance (e.g., arms bent upwards, upper bodies curbed). The costumes were a great match for the music and the movements – long flowing white skirts for the men and dresses for the women, each with blue (for the 4 men), green (for the 3 women) or red (for the couple) around the waist. The three colours provided structure for the first 3 parts and a vibrant atmosphere for the group section. I found the title Pacific well matched, and the piece is definitely part of my list of “high points” for this season.

44 Duos uses Bela Bartok’s eponymous 44 Duos for 2 Violins. While the music is for 2 violins, the choreography came with any number of dancers on stage, from solos to the full cast. Some movements were inspired by the folk theme of Bartok’s composition, others less so. Costumes included some which might be considered “folk” but others included e.g., what looked like shiny latex, a costume as if for Santa as well as normal street wear, and the dancer’s shoes came with a similar range (ballet flats, pointe shoes, trainers, sturdy shoes, …). The short musical duos gave rise to displays of couples in varying states of relationships, a large group of women hammering their pointe shoes against the floor as in a statement of assertion towards a group of men at the other end of the stage, couples dancing what looked like polka, and it showed individuals as part of larger groups. Two sections made me think that not all is well among the group and the environment that they live in – one showing dancers wearing stones as shoes and struggling to move in any direction, and the final piece with the dancers moving suddenly in unison. The parts that I enjoyed most where those that were danced to duos that were rhythmic, and the pieces that made me think most were those with the stones as shoes and the final tableau.

Both works were performed to live music. This was the first time that I've seen the company, and I hope there'll be a chance to see them next season, too.

Edited by Duck
Saturday not Sunday
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