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Ballett Frankfurt

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I went tonight. I never thought I would say this about Forsythe, but I was utterly unengaged by the entire evening. I was surprised how dated 1989's Enemy in the Figure looked, with its nasty technogloss. There were some prodigious dancers, but a friend summed it up better: "I've seen so much deconstruction, I want to see how people put it together now."

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Sorry, Alexandra, I hadn't noticed your question till now. Yes, I went. Part of the audience whooped and hollered, and at the end even tried, without success,to initiate a standing ovation. But I think "Woolf Phrase," "Enemy in the Figure," and "Quintett" must be the kind of ballets you were warning against when you started Ballet Alert! Correct me if I'm wrong.

I was later told that Gavin Bryars, composer of "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet," the music for "Quintett," is very well known. I don't know whether the problem was in the sound system or my hearing aid, but I misheard the lyric, which is repeated a gazillion times, as "Jesus! Love never found me yet." And in fact, the choreography made sense to me that way. Anyhow, as I've said before, I will henceforth steer clear of companies where "ballet" is spelled with two t's.

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Well that's two fans smile.gif I'm sick of deconstructionism too, and way sick of postmodernism. (I had a small fondness for its minimalist phase in modern dance; the palindrome pieces were fun.) I'd be curious to see Ballett Frankfurt now, though. The Kennedy Center has not been open to the Bejart-Ek-Forsythe wing of dance, and we should see it. (BF has played Wolf Trap in the summer here, but not the Kennedy Center.)

I've written before that my only objection to Forsythe isn't his fault -- it's those who write about him. This notion that he's Balanchine's heir -- not just in the sense of ability, but in the sense that he's part of the same aesthetic. That, I disagree with. There's certainly a craft there, but I'd agree with what Leigh wrote on the Heaven thread -- I've never been moved, and I find the constant energy empty after awhile.

I'm glad you went, Farrell Fan. It's always good to see new things, even if you don't like them smile.gif

Did anyone else go?

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Robert Greskovic reviewed the company for the Wall Street Journal on January 2. It's not available on line, unfortunately (unless you're a paid subscriber.)

I will type in a brief excerpt here:

"With this triple bill as an indicator, it would seem that Mr. Forsythe has become an enemy of academic steps. His choreography for his so-called ballet company tends to ignore the tradition of pointework for women altogether and concentrates mostly on off-kilter upper-body movements that produce fluidly changing shapes embellished by wheeling arms and aggressive legwork. As for steps, or what ballet's French-language academy has long called "pas," such

specifically accented workings of the feet that aim to go beyond basic locomotion seem of little interest to Mr. Forsythe."

Forsythe might well reply, "Right, they are of little interest. I go Beyond Ballet."

If anyone saw the company and liked it, please jump in smile.gif

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I have found some of his work very interesting and was sorry to miss the company in New York.

A gentle note: Ballet is generally spelled with two T's in German ballet companies.....I don't think it's an attempt at affectation.

I do like my tutu's though.........I know, I am hidebound....

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I loved the dance (I am not calling it a ballet) to the Gavin Bryars (a piece known here in New York because Steve Post used to play it on WNYC fundraisers). I always admire Forstyhe's company and his intelligence, not not what and the how of his work. But this dance--which basically was about love and death--was simple, evocative, flowing, non-recarinated, deeply felt, and had marvelous duets.

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It always fascinates me how polarizing Forsythe's work is. I've spoken with two friends who are ready to move to Frankfurt, they loved it so much. Others either walked out or didn't go. I just find it relentlessly energetic, superficial and, thus, boring. (But I didn't see the program Nanatchka did.)

That said, I wish that companies like Forsythe's and Pina Bausch would come to DC. Frankfurt Ballett did come to Wolf Trap several seasons ago, but we've never had a single night of tanzteater at the Kennedy Center. Not one. We never even had Bejart! We had a whole entire month of the Stuttgart once; about four ballets and three casts over and over and over and over.... Avoiding the avant-garde is one sure way for a city to remain a backwater.

Joan Acocella reviews Bausch and Forsythe in the New Yorker -- Link on Links -- and I'd recommend it. Whether you agree with her or not, it's interesting.

[ January 08, 2002: Message edited by: alexandra ]

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From the Telegraph, some time in 2001:

"Forsythe says one major inheritance from Balanchine is his use of the ballet position known as epaulement, which involves complex counter rotations of the body, including the shoulders, hips, hands, feet, head.

"As he says, "the mechanics of epaulement are what gives ballet its inner transitions. It's essential to a lot of my thinking." He takes this position one step further by what he calls disfocus. The dancers don't gaze out, but "stare up, roll their eyes back." Like a hypnotist might suggest, he asks them to "put your eyes in the back of your head." Their movement becomes "very water-like, shaky, unusual and serpentine". He warns: "Don't try this with too much furniture about."

And HO HO HO said the Cyclops. "Come into my parlour, little Ulysses...."

Loved that line on "Ive seen so much deconstructionism.....". Definitely the Quote of the Week. Have circulated it widely.

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