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Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre

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#1 Estelle


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Posted 10 March 2002 - 09:34 AM

The Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre will perform in Saint-Quentin en Yvelines
and in Nanterre at the end of March, and I was wondering if it would
be interesting to attend it. The program includes
four work on some Ravel music ("Home front" on "Le Tombeau
de Couperin", "Wien" on "La Valse", "Bolero", and "Prelude
a la nuit" on several pîeces) and I really love that music.
I know very little about Pascal Rioult, only that he was a dancer
of the Martha Graham Dance Company. Could anybody tell me a
bit more about his style or his company?

#2 salzberg


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Posted 10 March 2002 - 01:05 PM


Originally posted by Estelle:
The Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre will perform in Saint-Quentin en Yvelines
and in Nanterre at the end of March, and I was wondering if it would
be interesting to attend it.

I worked with Pascal at SUNY Purchase; I'd recommend this concert if only to see "Wien".

#3 Estelle


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Posted 10 March 2002 - 03:48 PM

Thanks for replying, Jeff! Could you tell me a bit more about Rioult's style? Is it close to Graham's?

#4 Estelle


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Posted 07 April 2002 - 03:58 PM

I couldn't go to Saint-Quentin en Yvelines, but finally managed to attend a performance of the Pascal Rioult Dance Theater in Nanterre, at the Maison de la Musique on April 5.

Nanterre, a suburb at the northwest of Paris, is known in the dance world mostly because it has been the home town of the POB dance school since the late 1980s (it also has a renowned state-subsidized theater, the Théâtre des Amandiers), but its Maison de la Musique has a decent programming of dance and music. (Parenthetically, a very tragic event happened there on March 27, as at the end of a meeting of the City council an insane man shot 8 elected people and injured tenths of others... Just near the theater, there still were posters with photographs of the deceased people).

The program, called "Projet Ravel", included four works, all on Ravel scores: "Home Front", "Wien", "Prélude à la nuit", and "Boléro".

"Home Front", the first work of the program, was set on "Le Tombeau de Couperin", Ravel's homage to the French composers who were killed in WWI. It is a plotless work for seven dancers (three men and four women), with a clearly Grahamian vocabulary, and a contrast with the aerial, light dances of the women and the muscular, mechanical and sometimes violent dances for the men. David Finley's lightings were excellent (and that is a comment to be repeated for all the other works, the lights were one of the most positive aspects of the program). I especially appreciated one of the female dancers- unfortunately, the program notes were very short, and gave only a list of the 10 dancers of the company, so I don't know her name.

The second work, "Wien", was set to Ravel's "La Valse". The work mirrored the violence of the score, with dancers doing relentless circular movements on the stage, and some of them trying in vain from time to time to escape the movements of the crowd. In spite of a few weaker moments, it was an impressive work, but I sometimes felt a bit ill at ease with the violence of the gestures, and some program notes would have been welcome to understand if it referred to a specific context, or if "Wien" just was chosen because of Viennese waltzes.

"Prélude à la nuit" was set on the score with the same title from "Rhapsodie Espagnole", and two other works ("Alborada del gracioso" and "Pavane pour une infante défunte"). It was centered on a female character, danced by a dancer who was a bit older than the rest of the company, and who probably was Joyce Herring, the associate director of the company. The first part was a metaphor of a hospital, with the female dancer wearing only underwear and the kind of white thin clothes without buttons that people have to wear when they go through surgery, and four male dancers with what looked like doctor's outfit. The second part was a kind of nightmare, with the female dancer being surrounded and hit by a group of dark-clothed characters, often wearing frightening dark masks, and the third part was some kind of heavenly place, with nice blue lights. As in the two previous works, I didn't like much the violent parts (and thought that some words of warning might have been appropriate as there were quite a lot of children in the audience) and sometimes the dance was a bit clumsy, but on the whole it was interesting, and the main dancer (Herring?) had a great stage presence. Harry Feiner's sets used inventively the same vertical patterns for all three parts.

The last work was on Ravel's well-known "Boléro".
It has been choreographed so much that it must be hard to find anything original to do on such a score. Rioult's work was plotless and quite geometric, with a contrast between the rather mechanical and angular movements of most of the dancers and slower, more sinuous movements of one of two dancers (those dancers changing each time).

The room wasn't full (but it had received very little publicity) and the audience's reaction was a bit tepid at the beginning, but it became more and more enthusiatic, and the company was applaused very much at the end of the program (Rioult himself came on stage for the bows).

On the whole, even if the choreography had some flaws, I appreciated quite a lot that program,
especially considering that the company has only 10 dancers. My boyfriend, who usually is a bit cautious when I try to convince him to see contemporary/ modern dance (especially after some unfortunate choices which made him fall asleep), said it definitely was worth the trip to Nanterre (and also that it was great to have for once lights which enabled you to actually see the dancers :D ). But I wonder how it would look to an American audience, as Graham-inspired technique probably is far more common there than here. That program will be performed in the US later (in Chatham, NJ on April 18, Larchmont, NY on April 29, and at the Joyce Theater in NYC between June 18 and 22).

As a last note, I'd like to thank the Maison de la Musique for its generous pricing policy: the highest price was only about 21 euros (about the same in US $), and there were special prices for students, unemployed people, people under 26, etc.
(for example children under 15 paid only 4.5 euros- and actually there were quite a lot of children and teen-agers in the audience, some of them in groups with teachers).

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