Outstanding Performances from Cedar Lake Dancers

Martinez, Aznavour and Other Composers, Triple Bill:  Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Sadler’s Wells, London, 27.9.2013  (JO’D)


Billy Bell, Jon Bond, Nickemil Concepcion, Vânia Doutel Vaz, Jason Kittelberger, Jospeh Kudra, Navarrra Novy-Williams, Guillaume Quéau, Matthew Rich, Ida Saki, Joaquim de Santana, Acacia Schachte, Rachelle Scott, Ebony Williams, Jin Young Won, Madeline Wong

 Indigo Rose
Choreographer: Jĭrí Kylián
Costume Design:Joke Visser
Décor Design: Jĭrí Kylián
Light design (original): Michael Simon
Light re-design:Kees Tjebbes (NDT2, 2005)
Video/Camera: Hans Knill
Video/Editing: Rob de Groot
Music:Robert Ashley, François Couperain, John Cage, J.S. Bach


Ten Duets On A Theme Of Rescue
Choreographer: Crystal Pite
Lighting design: Jim French
Costume Design: Junghyun Georgia Lee
Music: Cliff Martinez – Selections from the original motion picture soundtrack to Solaris
Necessity, Again
Choreographer: Jo Strømgren
Costume design: Junghyun Georgia Lee
Set design: Jo Strømgren
Lighting design: Jim French/ Jo Strømgren
Music: Charles Aznavour, with text by Jacques Derrida

Additional music: Bergmand Slaslien

In the skin-tight costumes they wear for Jĭrí Kylián’s Indigo Rose (which opens the programme) the dancers of this ten-year old, New York-based company present themselves, first and foremost, as strong, muscular and lithe. With movements informed by classical ballet technique, but also by break dance and gymnastics, they can be loose-shouldered and loose-hipped or geometrically poised as they alternate between the fast tempo of composer Robert Ashley’s Factory Preset and the measured strains of Couperin and Bach. Kylián’s work starts simply enough with a thin beam of light projected diagonally across the stage, and a single dancer who stands in relation to it. Gradually, though, it becomes cluttered. A triangular-shaped, white curtain descends along the line traced by the light. Shadows of the dancers, sometimes enlarged, sometimes reduced, are projected on to it. The effects produced surprise or amuse, but the stage has been awkwardly divided to achieve them. As this busy, repetitive, multi-media piece continues, the energy that the dancers create flows from one side of the proscenium arch to the other instead of out into the auditorium. At the end they are left spread out across the stage, frozen for several minutes beneath black-and-white film of their own faces in close up.

Crystal Pite’s Ten Duets On A Theme of Rescue, on the other hand, uses free-standing spotlights (some of which point almost directly at the audience) to form an arena that contains and channels energy out from the stage. Against this harsh background, and to music from the soundtrack to the film ‘Solaris’, five dancers, now wearing looser-fitting clothes that focus the attention less on their bodies and more on what they are doing with them, partner each other in squared off, flattened out, grounded movement that is imbued with a sense of (emotional) effort and pain. When one of the men lifts one of the women, it is not to help her defy gravity but to show the supported weight of the human body. At the end here, the revealed, turned off spotlights stand like silent witnesses to the acts of frailty or longing they have framed. The stillness and the careful staging of the piece, and the seriousness with which it is performed, were met by a physical response in several members of the audience who stood up to applaud.

Commissioned specifically as an end-piece, Necessity, Again, by choreographer and theatre director Jo Strømgren, may seem lighter in tone at first than the other two works in the programme. There are a table and chair on the stage, and sheets of paper pegged up to dry on lines of string. The dancers start off by looking, and moving, like students in 1950s Paris. They are sent to sleep by recordings of a text by philosopher Jacques Derrida, or made to dance by the voice of Charles Aznavour. Sudden shifts in sound, lighting, choreography and costume, however, create a more unsettling atmosphere. These can be potentially threatening, as when some of the men take off their shirts (revealing the muscles that were outlined by the costumes of Indigo Rose), or intriguing, as when all the dancers step out of their clothes to move in unison, in their underwear, to Bergmand Slaslien’s haunting music. There were standing ovations at the end of this piece, too. This time I felt they were for the dancers themselves, their stamina and versatility, rather than for the particular work they had just performed.

John O’Dwyer