Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Danza en Madrid


I am way overdue with my review of Compañía Nacional de Danza 2.  Although better late than never, right? :)
On the 26th of March, I attended the final performance of this season's run for Compañía Nacional de Danza 2 at Teatro de Madrid.  This was a special treat for me, as this company is based here in Madrid, and rarely tours in the  United States.  Different from the parent company, CND, this smaller ensemble group is a pre-professional cast, meant to train dancers from conservatories and ballet schools for work with larger dance companies.  Their repertoire consists mainly of works by Artistic Director, Nacho Duato, yet also incorporates work of other promising young choreographers.  Nacho Duato trained at the Rambert School of London, Maurice Bejart's Mudra School in Brussels and my personal favorite, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in New York City.  His work is credited for being contemporary without being overly "artistic".  His piece, "Gnawa" happened to be my favorite, as it showcased the dancers' true artistic and athletic abilities; extensions, leaps in flight, synchronization; all set to rich and sensual Arabic music.
The program began with "Everything Might Spill", choreographed by Lesley Telford.  This piece was her first work for CND2.  It was an interpretative piece regarding the dynamics of human relationships, and how in one moment, the equilibrium and balance of society can be lost, and "everything" spilled.  From the beginning to end, the movements were static, abrupt, and chaotic.  At times, the dancers interrupted one another and the staging looked overly disorganized; thus distracting from the artistry of expression.  Further adding to the confusion, scenographer Yoko Seyama (with photos from Fernando Marcos), projected images of the dancers in static, sequential movements on the circular scrim, suspended in the middle of the stage.  The stage lights were off, the dancers were barely visible, and the shutter sound of pictures changing was louder than the monotone music.  It was an interesting idea to include added forms of media, but I think the choreographer should have relied on the beauty of the dancers, instead of relying on the kitschy nature of the scrim and photographs.  This piece left something to be desired, as there was no beginning, middle or end.  The audience did not see the time before the spill; only after.  We did not see the calm before the storm, which would have made the stormy parts of the piece more believable.
The show continued with "Fractus", choreographed by Luisa Maria Arias.  Like "Everything Might Spill", this was also a new piece for CND2.  This piece explored the lost and incomplete souls in a polluted world; souls that seek to find their true self amidst the darkness.  The set, costumes and music perfectly matched the theme of this piece.  The piece began with the dancers beneath a gray "mushroom" cloud/parachute, that symbolized a nuclear cloud.  As the dancers moved in gray, monotone and disorganized (yet synchronized) confusion, the fear of the unknown rose to higher levels among the audience members.  At the breaking point, dancers began to tear their gray clothing away, to reveal white costumes; the purity lying within us all.  Elisabet Biosca and Eliton Barros led a beautiful pas de deux with awe-inspiring leaps, height-defying lifts, and genuine chemistry; unusual for young and inexperienced performers.  Biosca and Barros demonstrated their true talent, and it is obvious they are here to stay on the international dance scene.  I enjoyed the juxtaposition between lightness and darkness, clarity and confusion.  For that, "Fractus" was enjoyable to watch; a perfect blend of "artsy" concepts without losing an inevitably necessary element of commercialism.
As I mentioned before, "Gnawa" was my favorite piece.  The best was certainly saved for last. This piece lacked the youthful (and inexperienced?) style the first two pieces shared.  "Gnawa" had a polished and mature tone, evidently formed since it was first premiered in 2004 for Hubbard Street Dance, Chicago.  The piece pulsated with exotic energy from the moment the dancers entered the dark stage carrying candles in Moroccan lanterns.  These lanterns were set at the furthest point downstage, and from there, the adventure began.  The Arabic words ran through one's blood; the music kept time with one's heart.  The female dancers had plain black dresses with tan accents, while the men had tan pants with black accents.  These costumes complemented the strong movements and themes of liberty and pride.  Reminiscent of an Ailey piece, it was exciting to witness the power of the dancers; athletic strength and precision showcased in breath-taking leaps, turns, jumps and lifts.  "Gnawa" neither relied on kitsch nor tired themes.  "Gnawa" simply exploded with the peaceful, loving and happy energy of the Mediterranean; and I am eternally grateful to have experienced the warmth of this piece.
Teatro de Madrid
Paseo de la Chopera, 4
28045, Madrid, Spain
Tel: +34 91 354 50 53
Thank you Teatro de Madrid for keeping the art of dance accessible and affordable to the city of Madrid!
Orchestra seats for only 18 Euros!





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