World News – CA – Live, urgent, but with a slightly recycled feel


In London on Saturday evening, the venerable British dance company Rambert performed “Draw From Within”, a new work by Belgian choreographer Wim Vandekeybus I watched it from my home in Brooklyn

Such a far-sighted view, once rare in concert dancing, has become mainstream But where most of these performances these days are free and prerecorded, this one was recorded and broadcast live If you missed the show you couldn’t catch it later so there was immediacy But unlike most live broadcasts it wasn’t a static recording or glitch presentation on Zoom Watching it was more like watching a film, immersive and captivating, but without a doubt the most technically sophisticated live dance production that I have seen since theaters closed

Entirely filmed in Rambert’s studios, the work seemed to wander, via moving cameras and moving sets, through different spaces, scenes, dreams We were in a dark place, in the middle of dancers who were drawing pictures figures in the air with the smoke of extinguished torches And then – suddenly, smoothly – we were in the dojo of a martial arts cult, or witnessing the birth of a miracle child who turned out to be a murderer, or, more topically, trapped in a sinister hospital

If this sounds like a series of nightmares, you get the idea Every now and then the mood has lightened up, like when Penny & the Quarters’ « You and Me » came on the soundtrack, and Salome Pressac – one of Rambert’s most striking telegenic dancers – swayed and vibrated with delightful nonchalance, unimpressed by a suitor Yet even then the undertone was menacing, and the next moment Mrs. Pressac found herself trapped by the sons

These threads, wielded by bending and space-cutting dancers, are a good example of the ingenuity of production and also of how this ingenuity has been continuously applied in the service of intensity Over time. , however, this relentless intensity has become monotonous and fabricated

Aside from a bit of soul, the soundtrack tended towards Eastern European wedding music and a lot of electric guitar.The hyped-up choreography, in fact, often felt like simultaneous guitar solos: the noodle dancers, throwing, jumping and spinning always at the same time Or, to borrow a metaphor from the work itself, the dance was like that smoke: winding and short-lived, no matter how often the torch

The flexible and vigorous dancers were up to the physical challenges They could handle the game but the dramatic storylines, intended to be surreal, were rather generic, constructed from familiar ideas from horror films, skillfully recycled and reproduced but not allusive in any way If « Drawing from the inside » was like a movie, it was like a movie you’ve seen before

The state of emergency he presented was ersatz, conventional, a trademark of Mr. Vandekeybus I could have been more receptive to it if we weren’t in a real one Everyone on the long rolling credit list deserves praise for making this show off, but the issues of relevance are much higher now than before the pandemic, when production was first planned

Towards the end of the production, a dancer, playing the role of a distraught host or fateful TV reporter, asked, « What is this? » What are they doing? « In another era, the question could have been written rhetorically, as satire or as a commentary on criticism Saturday, I wanted to know the answer

‘Draw From Within’ premiered live online from September 24-27 Tickets were available through the Brooklyn Academy of Music


World News – CA – Live, urgent, but with a slightly recycled feel


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