It's strangely difficult to pay attention to D'un soir un jour, the new work by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. She throws together scores by three composers, adding film, lighting and echoes of choreography by Nijinsky. It adds up to very little.
The first of her six scores is Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, Nijinsky's first ballet. In silence, Rosas dancers take up his stylised poses, with a bare-breasted woman as the faun, a man as the leading nymph. Designer Jan Joris Lamers leaves the stage bare, lit by a vast spotlight and some dim strip lighting. At the end, Lamers adds a gorgeous backdrop, an expanse of cobalt blue.
Once the music starts, on tape, De Keersmaeker adds her own choreography, though echoes of Nijinsky linger. A man lies down, stretches and reaches with his arms, jumps and scampers. Others open their arms, plant themselves in positions. The Rosas dancers move boldly: they really use their torsos. As they move, their feet stir up the fine powder on the stage. Those swirls of dust, shifting in the light, are the evening's finest effect.
Fumiyo Ikeda dances in silence, pumping her arms and kicking off her shoes. As Stravinsky's Symphonies of Wind Instruments begins, others join her. A woman totters on the table, before being carried around. It's followed by Dance Figures, created for De Keersmaeker by George Benjamin.
Perhaps she means to show the differences and parallels between her composers, but her dancers hardly seem to change gear. Even when there is a change in vocabulary - from the Faune echoes to those lifts - there's a sameness in her musical responses.
After Benjamin's Ringed by the Flat Horizon, the dancers reappear with white faces, running around and shrieking. For Stravinsky's Fireworks, they snap into poses or somersaults, insistently on the beat. It's end-of-the-pier musicality, but at least it's a change. Before the final section, Debussy's Jeux, we see a clip from the film Blow-up, with mime artists acting out a tennis match. Her own Jeux has more Nijinsky echoes, using the same group of one man, two women. De Keersmaeker shows us her sources, pointing out analogies, but she doesn't make them striking. Two stylised versions of tennis: yes, and?
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