Cedar Lake’s Dance Trilogy Impresses Scotland

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Various Composers: Indigo Rose, Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue, Necessity, Again: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, 12.10.2013 (SRT)

NECESSITY, AGAIN, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Baden Baden, Germany.
NECESSITY, AGAIN, Cedar Lake Contemporary Photo (c) Jane Hobson

Indigo Rose, choreographed by Jiři Kylián
Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue, choreographed by Crystal Pite
Necessity, Again, choreographed by Jo Strømgen

New York based Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet are in Britain for just over three weeks.  They’ve been to Sadler’s Wells and Cardiff, and after these Edinburgh shows they’ll be moving on to Bradford and Leicester.  You can find details of their tour here.

I found their first piece the most interesting, perhaps because it was the most abstract.  Indigo Rose was, in fact, written for and premiered by those masters of contemporary dance at the Nederlands DansTheater and plays with ideas about reflections and interactions.  Pairs or groups of dancers would often appear as mirror images of one another, but the pairing of the images would often be disrupted by an outside force or something originating from the dancers themselves.  This point was made most forcibly when a giant sheet was used as the screen against which to project some striking shadow images of the dancers, and the question was posed of which was the more important: the image or the dancer?  The use of music was at its strongest here, too.  Robert Ashley’s Factory Preset was one note repeated on an endlessly varying rhythm, but I liked the way they used it, sometimes for jagged, angular movements, sometimes for something very lyrical.  A piece of Couperin was used beautifully as the accompaniment to two pairs of dancers (again, who sometimes mirrored each other) isolated in pools of light into which the dancers would appear and then melt back into the surrounding darkness.  They also used a fugue from the Well Tempered Clavier as a fitting accompaniment to a dance of perfectly judged proportions, but I didn’t like the way a video screen took over from the dancers for most of this section, a series of images taking the attention while the dancers stood stock still in the shadows.

Despite some beautiful imagery and some very moving tableaux, I found it difficult to get excited about Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue.  The set-up was interesting – a circle of spotlights that could both isolate and link up the dancers – and some of the interactions were very touching, most clearly when one dancer would reach out to and comfort another character in pain.  Viewed as a whole, however, I found it a little repetitious, not helped by a choice of music (selections from Cliff Martinez’s soundtrack to Solaris) that was very beautiful but almost entirely unrhythmic.

Necessity, Again was a good choice to bring the trilogy to an end, though, playful in mood and engaging in its variety.  Jo Strømgren’s central idea was to escape from society’s obsession with formulating everything in words and instead to celebrate raw emotions.  To illustrate this (not particularly subtly) he has uses a series of French chansons interspersed with excerpts from a rather heavy lecture by Derrida.  While the music is French, the dancing often had a rather Mediterranean or Latin American fee; and the final scenes, with paper being thrown everywhere and a dancerbeing tossed in the air (see picture) created a carefree ending to the evening, even if the message was a little blunt.

Simon Thompson