Ivan Putrov Focuses on The Role of the Male Dancer

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Debussy, Banschikov, Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky, Gershwin, et al., Men in Motion (devised by Ivan Putrov): Orchestra and New London Chamber Choir / Richard Bernas (conductor),, London Coliseum, London, 31.1.2014 (JO’D)

Debussy:L’Après-midi d’un Faune (1912)
Dancers: Rainer Krenstetter, Elena Glurdjidze
Choreography: Original by Vaslav Nijinsky, adapted by Ivan Putrov
Gennadi Banschikov: Narcisse (1960)
Dancer Ivan Putrov
Choreography: Kasian Goleizovsky
Banschikov: Vestris (1969)
Dancer: Valentino Zucchetti
Choreography: Leonid Jacobson

J S Bach: Adagio (2004)
Dancer: Vadim Muntagirov
Choreography: Alexey Miroshnichenko
Nina Simone: Sinnerman (2014)
Dancer: Daniel Proietto
Choreography: Alan Lucien Øyen
Lighting: Martin Flack

Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jeremiah/Sells: 3 With D (2014)
Dancers: Edward Watson, Marijn Rademaker
Singer/guitarist: Dan Gillespie Sells
Pianist: Ciaran Jeremiah
Choreography: Javier de Frutos

Mozart: Lacrimosa (1980)
Dancer: Marian Walter
Choreography: Guala Pandi

Buika: Volver, Volver (2014)
Dancer: Edward Watson
Choreography: Arthur Pita
Sound design: Frank Moon
Costume maker: Takako Sato
Prosthetics: Jin Ho Kang

Gershwin: Liza’ from Who Cares? (1970)
Dancer: Valentino Zucchetti
Choreography: George Balanchine

Stravinsky: Petrushka (1911)

Dancers: Ivan Putrov and Elena Glurdjidze
Choreography: Michael Fokine

Saint-Saëns: Swan (2008)
Dancer: Yonah Acosta
Choreography: Radu Poklitaru

Bonino: Pas de deux from Proust ou Les Intermittences du Coeur (1974)
Dancers: Marian Walter and Rainer Krenstetter
Choreography: Roland Petit
Staging: Luigi Bonino

Weber: Le Spectre de la Rose (1911)
Dancers: Vadim Muntagirov and Elena Glurdjidze
Choreography: Michael Fokine

Johnny Cash: Äffi (2005)
Dancer: Marijn Rademaker
Choreography: Marco Goecke
Light: Udo Haberland
Andy Cowton: Two x Two (2009)
Dancers: Daniel Proietto and Ivan Putrov
Choreography: Russell Maliphant

Producer: Ivan Putrov
Lighting designer: Anthony Hately

As the auditorium fills before Ivan Putrov’s Men in Motion (a selection of choreography from the past hundred years that focuses on the male dancer), several men are already in motion on the stage. Wearing the clothes they may have worn on the way there, Edward Watson, Yonah Acosta, Vadim Muntagirov, Valentino Zucchetti and Marijn Rademaker are doing warm ups, going through their steps, or stretching at a portable barre. Their later appearances, in costume and makeup, are all the more intense for this early foregrounding of performance as performance.

Two of the fifteen works in the programme (which is accompanied by an orchestra and chorus assembled for the occasion) are world premieres. In 3 in D, choreographer Javier de Frutos puts three chairs, two dancers and one guitarist/singer (Dan Gillespie Sells) on the stage. Through their ceaseless movement (interrupted by moments of sudden stillness), Edward Watson and Marijn Rademaker show the imbalance of need in a relationship. When, standing in front of him, Watson kisses Rademaker on the lips, it is not so much with affection as in desperation and defiance. Gillespie Sells adds poignant emphasis through Gershwin’s ‘The Man I Love’, Cole Porter’s ‘Down in the Depths’, and his own ‘Hides in your Heart’. Watson’s skill as an actor-dancer is demonstrated again in the second premiere of the evening, Arthur Pita’s Volver, Volver. In this choreographer’s ‘The Metamorphosis’ (2012), Watson was a man who finds himself turned into an insect. Here he is, first of all, a suave but androgynous figure in evening dress who saunters on to the purple-curtained stage after the interval. Smirking at the audience, he opens his jacket in time to Frank Moon’s musical gunshots to reveal the bloodstains from two bullet wounds. Taking off the evening suit and shirt, he moves about in the Spiderman outfit he wears underneath, then stands as both superhero and child, holding a heart-shaped balloon. At the end, and to great applause, he strips to the waist (smirking again) to show the blood from the gunshots on his torso.

If this is the male dancer in 2014, wounded and ironic (ironic about his wounds), and not necessarily in motion at all, Ivan Putrov also tries to show him as he has been seen at other times during the last century and the beginning of this. He, Rainer Krenstetter, and Vadim Muntagirov (with the help of Elena Glurdjidze in three female roles) dance excerpts from Fokine and Nijinsky. Putrov is especially moving, even heart-breaking, as he expresses the eponymous puppet’s happiness and sadness through facial expression and posture in Petrushka (1911). Krenstetter extends his arms and points his hands stiffly downwards during his fearful encounter with the nymph in L’Après-midi d’un faune (1912). In Kasian Goleizovsky’s Narcisse (1960), Putrov (again) seems to disappear behind the movement to become its flowing essence. Marian Walter and Rainer Krenstetter mirror each other’s positions in Roland Petit’s Pas de Deux from Proust (1974). They circle like boxers performing arabesques en l’air instead of jabs, but unlike the two dancers in 3 in D, they do find a certain harmony at the end. Marian Walter shows the male dancer expressing emotional pain in Guala Pandi’s Lacrimosa (1980), to music by Mozart. Muntagirov (dancing the role for the first time) may be less certain in the parts of Le Spectre de la Rose (1912) in which he dances alone, and has to twine his arms around his own body. In Alexey Miroshnichenko’s solo, Adagio (2004), however, this naturally outward-looking dancer makes a partner of the space around him, or of the audience itself.

Marco Goecke’s Äffi (2005), which makes the male body strange by focusing on Marijn Rademaker’s very flexible back, arms, and hands (and in which he spends much of the time facing away from the audience) was less enthusiastically-received here than when performed by the same dancer at Sadler’s Wells last November. Even in what I thought was a slightly softened version. The final piece of the programme was Russell Maliphant’s Two x Two (2009) in which, revolving in their separate squares of half-light, Ivan Putrov and Daniel Proietto really are men in constant, phase-lagged, accelerating motion.

John O’Dwyer