Arts: Dance: The structure of emotion
ROSAS QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL LONDON
Tuesday 15 June 1999
Those beginnings were Fase in 1982, the second work of a 22-year-old Belgian choreographer. Also set to Reich, it was so fresh, so rigorously intelligent, it immediately put her in an international spotlight. It could have been a fluke, but it wasn't. Her prolific output continues to be exceptional in its distinctiveness and profound musical intellect. Her group, Rosas, performs around the world; in 1992 she became resident choreographer of the Monnaie opera house in Brussels.
As with most choreography to minimalist music, Fase glued its steps to Reich's shifting repetitions, although it had autonomy through its own dramatic shading. Drumming adopts a more sophisticated structural rapport, fluctuating between matching the score's rhythms and disregarding them; in the music's third section, the andante glockenspiel and whistle sounds are contradicted by the serene poses of the dancers, time-suspended like sleeping figures.
Like the score, the dance is a single basic phrase, but patterns gel, then melt away. Solo dancers dart and weave, while groups wheel round like flocks of birds, collecting extra dancers or discarding them. It's a piece about fragmentation and proliferation as well as about unity and individuality within collective contours. Dries Van Noten's gorgeous white costumes, all different but with a family air, reinforce the idea.
And rarely has the Queen Elizabeth Hall stage looked so spacious and beautiful. For the set, Jan Versweyveld erects a white screen that shimmers softly at the back. He suffuses the performers in calm, pale orange, or in pools of light and shade as if they were travelling in and out of autumn sunlight.
They slice the air with arms as clean and spiky as stars; couples interact in glancing duets, their movements slotting in briefly like jigsaw pieces. One dancer constantly asserts her own dance, imploding on to the stage, ending the piece at odds with group configurations. But the sudden coalescing into exquisite harmonies acts as a reminder of the choreographer's tight structuring hand.
This humanity of the performers, of course, is not stifled. "I'm obsessed by structures," Keersmaeker says. "But the most beautiful experience is to see such a construction generating something intangible, elusive - an emotion."
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Woman 'suffocates newborn baby in plastic bag and puts it in her desk minutes after giving birth'
- 2 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove