Genevieve PM Roy
Danz & Toot - Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal
With the arrival of Artistic Director Gradimir Pankov at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, the company has turned a new leaf by becoming a creative repertory company that seeks to reflect currents trends in ballet.
From the 14th to the 23rd of Mars, the company presented the colorful and spectacular show, Danz & Toot, a double bill created by two respected choreographers: Israeli Ohad Naharin and Dutch born Didy Veldman.
I found both shows to be innovative and daring and I would be hard pressed to say that one act was more entertaining than the other. Both pieces portrayed aspects of the human condition and explored various facets of raw emotions and movements through fluid dance steps and the use of unique gestural language.
The opening act Danz, was a piece written specifically for Les Grands Ballets back in 2008 by Ohad Naharin, director of the Israeli Batsheva Dance Company. Danz is the second collage created by Naharin for Les Grands Ballets after Minus One, in 2002. The audience will discover a new version of the piece, as the show is a retrospective that re-explores a collage of excerpts taken from five of his previous choreographies: Moshe (1999), Virus (2001), Three (2005), Telophaza (2005) and Max (2007).
With Danz, the dancers were challenged with a choreography that demanded great flexibility in both limbs and spine. Dressed in jeans and body hugging pastel colored tops, they were encouraged to have an introspective look into their own body’s rhythms and sounds, as well as to explore new feelings found through a state of total freedom.
Danz opened to the rhythmic sounds of African music in which grounded movements were accented by rapid small gestures countered by sudden bursts of music. The selected score was quite diverse and included classical, electro, pop and even surf - rock taken from the works of Beethoven, Brian Eno and even original creations of Maxim Waratt (Ohad Naharin’s pseudonym).
Inspired by the music and tumultuous life of Russian Composer Dmitri Shostakovich, Toot was a funny piece that equally addressed serious issues of individuality and identity. The piece, choreographed by Didy Veldman, posed a scathing critique of the alienation of individuals in modern societies represented through a clownish universe.
The score of Toot was an interesting mix taken from the Balanescu Quartet and Suite No. 2 for Jazz Orchestra by Dmitri Shostakovich. Shostakovich was a Russian composer of the Soviet era under Stalin’s regime. At the time, the regime was wary and watchful of his work and the composer had to make concessions and try to comply, while also retaining his own unique identity both in his society as well as an individual.
The story and music were the starting point of the thinking process behind the creation, says Didy Veldman.
Wearing heavy white makeup, extravagant wigs, and frolicking around a closed circus ring, the small clownish group of fifteen dancers became a symbol of conformity and illustrated the sad and absurd nature of the homogenization of identities.
As audience members, we start to question how much of ourselves we must be willing to give up in order to belong to a society. This theme particularly stood out in one act in which the designated circus leader grabbed a microphone and started shouting out orders to individual members of the troupe.
Through the score and beautiful dance movements, there is a glimmer of hope: Each dancer expresses their unquenchable thirst for freedom of expression and does this with bubbling energy, humor and assurance.
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens have just released their new 2013- 2014 season which include some great classics such as Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker as well as other beautiful pieces: La Bayadere, Rodin / Claudel, Marie -Antoinette and the Transfigured Night.
For more information and show times please visit:
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens http://www.grandsballets.com