Mon, Apr 11, 2011 - Page 13 News List

The Weekender: A week in the world of dance

By Diane Baker  /  Staff Reporter

Royal Ballet ballerina Tamara Rojo was mesmerizing in her performances in the International Ballet Star Gala at the National Theater at the weekend.

Photo courtesy of IBSG

The 5th International Ballet Star Gala at the National Theater was a delight from start to finish on Saturday night, whether the bravura turns in classics such as the “Black Swan pas de deux” from Swan Lake, the Don Quixote pas de deux or the slew of enchanting new works by young choreographers such as Briton David Dawson and Vietnamese Van Le Ngoc.

All of the dancers were in fine form, but Royal Ballet principals Tamara Rojo and Federico Bonelli sizzled as the impassioned, impetuous lovers in the pas de deux from Sir Kenneth MacMillian’s Manon — with some of the best kissing ever seen on a ballet stage — while American Ballet Theater principals Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes were all tortured anguish as the same characters years later in John Neumier’s Lady of Camellia. Nobody does suppressed volcanic emotions better than Kent. She and Gomes were equally impressive in James Kudelka’s very modern Cruel World.

It was wonderful to see Yumiko Takeshima and Raphael Coumes-Marquet, both principals with the Dresden State Ballet, return for a second gala appearance in a Dawson piece, this time On the Nature of Daylight, as well as William Forsythe’s sharply angular Slingerland Pas de Deux.

There has been a lot of critical writing over the past decade or two about the slow death of classical ballet as modern ballet choreographers move further away from the lyricism of their roots, but the quiet beauty of Dawson and Van Le Ngoc’s pieces, as well as Krystof Pastor’s Wie Lange Noch? give one hope, while ballerina Elena Kuzmina proved she can choreograph short dramatic show-stoppers with her Leda and the Swan, partnered by the amazing Igor Kolb.

Wang Tzer-shing’s (王澤馨) has an enviable track record of five International Ballet Star Gala under her belt and dancers around the world are lining up to be included on her guest list. It would be nice if the corporate world would show a bit of interest and cough up some sponsorship to allow her to do more.

Up in the Experimental Theater on Saturday afternoon, dancer/choreographer Chou Shu-yi (周書毅) kept his audience’s attention during his solo show Faceless (我/不要/臉), helped in no small part by the ingenious set and sculptures developed by Luxury Logico (豪華朗機工).

Chou was sitting in a high chair on a large, elevated platform as the audience took its seats, his head obscured by a giant white drop cloth. When the cloth fell, Chou’s head appeared, crowned by an Andy Warhol-ish white wig, while his face was accented by a pair of large black sunglasses and a rictus-like grin.

He spent the hour-long show exploring the confines of his world, and his existence, but the platform turned out to be a Chinese puzzle box of secret panels, hidden windows and lots of surprises.

Faceless is very clever, but it is more performance art than dance. Most of Chou’s movements were hand and arm ticks, body rolls, scuttles, slides and stretches. He is such a wonderful dancer it is a shame he didn’t dance more.

The piece was produced by the all-male dance troupe Horse (驫舞劇場), of which Chou is a founding member, with a soundscape by frequent collaborator Yannick Dauby. The performance showed once again that Horse is more than willing to tackle big challenges.

Meanwhile, the Universal Ballet of Korea’s performance of Shim Chung (沈清) at the National Theater on Tuesday night was a revelation.

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