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By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 15 MAY 2014 — Having opened the programme of Benjamin Millepied’s L. A. Dance Project 2 at the Chatelet Theatre in March with Morgan’s Last Chug, a piece set to an unusual score of Bach’s "Suite Française No 1 in D Minor, played by Glenn Gould and overlaid by the voice of Jim Norton reciting Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, the Israeli choreographer, Emanuel Gat is back in Paris with his own troupe. He again brought a work set to music by Bach, interpreted by Gould, and similarly overlaid with two more spoken tracks, this time by Gould himself.

With The Goldlandbergs, conceived a few months earlier for the Montpellier Dance Festival, Gat had been inspired by Glenn Gould’s words declaring that the justification of art was the "internal combustion" it ignited in the hearts of men and not its "shallow, externalized" public manifestation. To further clarify matters, Gould continued by saying that the purpose of art was not the release of a "momentary ejection of adrenaline", but was rather the gradual lifelong construction of a state of "wonder and serenity".

Happy were those who had read their programme before the start of the piece.

The Goldlandbergs
Choreography: Emanuel Gat

The actual score consisted of quotes from The Quiet in the Land, written and arranged by Gould which was intermingled with him playing excerpts from Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Well and good except for the fact that the combination of all the background noises, complicated and disconcerting with all their direct religious references, distracted from the work, particularly when there were two voices coming over from either side of the stage. Happy again were those in the audience who didn’t understand English, for both listening and trying to make sense out of the words as well as watching the dancers proved a little over the top. One counter-acted the other.

However, that said, much of the work was fascinating, particularly the groupings of the dancers enhanced by the constantly shifting lighting and changes of pace. The eight dancers slid under their partners, climbed on top of each other, arms and legs emerging one after another within a group which moved and breathed as one. They flowed into each other before breaking up and then joining forces again. Gat’s work is both interesting and arresting.

But one wondered why he chose to present this piece with the interpreters attired for the most part in woolly striped socks and unappetizing underwear. Why did one of the women harbor grey ‘granny’ bloomers with an unbecoming singlet, while a young male dancer remained on stage in dubious orange underpants a size too small?  

Emanuel Gat, a highly personable young man and one of the choreographic hopes of the future whose work is very much in demand at the moment, was born in Israel in 1969. He discovered dance at the age of 23, joining the company Liat Dror Nir Ben Gal a few months later, when his interest turned more and more to choreography. But after founding his own company in Tel Aviv, he subsequently chose to settle in France 6 years ago, in the Southern city of Istres where he is gradually making a name for himself as a young choreographer to follow.

After the show, one of the questions I asked him was whether his work had a message.

"No", he replied. "My choreography simply looks at people and observes their behavior, attempting to throw light on their motives and on trying to discover what makes them tick."

Whatever, Gat’s work has a certain originality, each movement being carefully constructed, always with attention to the score; whether or not it follows Gould’s narration is for each spectator to discover for himself.
The effective lighting was by Gat in collaboration with Samson Milcent and Guillaume Février.

Patricia Boccadoro writes on dance in Europe. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Observer and Dancing Times and was dance consultant to the BBC Omnibus documentary on Rudolf Nureyev. Based in Paris,  Patricia Boccadoro is the dance editor for Culturekiosque.

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