Dance: Reviews
You are in:  Home > Dance > Reviews   •  Archives   •  send page to a friend

Headline Feed
Email to a friend



By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 4 APRIL 2016 — The Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon is possibly the finest contemporary dance troupe in France today. It is a company full of contrasts. Essentially a classically based company, it specialises in contemporary works with a wide range of dance styles, and possesses a repertoire of over 90 pieces created by today’s leading choreographers including Kylian, Mats Ek, Cunningham, as well as Roland Petit.

Based in Lyon, France, it is directed by Greek-born Yorgos Loukos who was Petit’s assistant for many years,  and is composed of dancers from over 10 different countries and from very different backgrounds, many of whom, like Dorothée Delabie, have been with the troupe for over a decade.  Noellie Conjeaud was a pupil at the Paris Opera school while Simon Galvani, aged 21, studied at the Conservatoire of Music and Dance there. Kristina Bentz, 23, hails from New York, where she trained at the Julliard School, but whether from South Africa, Japan, or Cuba, all the dancers are linked by their fierce desire to interpret contemporary works.

Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon in Black Box
Choreography: Lucy Guerin
Photo: Michel Cavalca

I spoke to Roylan Ramos and Leoannis Pupo-Guillen, two excellent young dancers from Havana, who, after completing their studies, joined the National Ballet of Cuba before coming to Europe. "I became bored with interpreting only the traditional classics", Ramos told me. "I wanted to be able to move my body differently and I heard about this company and came here together with Leoannis and his wife. It’s both exciting and stimulating, and we are very fortunate to be able to dance so many different works."

Certainly the mixed bill presented at the Theatre de la Ville reflected the troupe’s diversity, beginning with the elegant and visually very attractive, Xylographie by Portuguese choreographer, Tania Carvalho, followed by the latest piece by Israeli, Emmanuel Gat, curiously named, Sunshine which was probably more enjoyable to dance than to watch.  An intriguing experimental work by Australian, Lucy Guerin, Black Box, was also shown with One Flat Thing, Reproduced, the masterpiece by American, William Forsythe concluding an enjoyable programme.

The evening opened withc, a fascinating, highly theatrical work which began with a lone dancer in black sidling across a dramatically lit stage. A work demonstrating very great aesthetic research, Xylographie also revealed the remarkable technical prowess of the dancers, 18 in all.

Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon in Xylographie
Choreography: Tania Carvalho
Photo: Fleth

Carvalho cleverly used groups to convey mass movement, where each group of 6 dancers, in red, in black, and in brown, ebbed and flowed, such as a flock of birds blown by the wind. They formed diagonals, and then leant backwards then forwards, one after the other in an extremely refined, sophisticated choreography. Set to music by Ulrich Estreich and Tania Carvalho herself, with unusual, elaborate costumes designed by Alexsandar Protic, the work was an excellent start to the evening.

Gat’s Sunshine was a bit of a let-down after the striking group scenes, costumes and superbly worked choreography of Carvalho.  But no matter if the audience sat restlessly through this piece which had no theme, no recognizable choreography, décor or costumes and where the score, supposedly "after" Handel’s Water Music, favoured either long silences or Gat’s love of people talking over traffic noises, the dancers,  Leoannis Pupo-Guillen told me, had a great time. "Each time we dance, it’s different", he said. "Much of what we do depends on us as it’s based on improvisation, so everything we do follows the movements of what the dancer next to us is doing".

So, dressed in their street clothes, the dancers ran around the stage, jumping, twisting, sliding, knocking each other over, rolling on the floor and generally having fun. Make of that what you will.

Lucy Guerin’s slow-moving contribution imposing physical and mental limitations upon eleven dancers was more ambitious. To a soundtrack by Oren Ambarchi, a girl in white is dancing alone in a square of light before being joined by ten companions. A game of appearance and disappearance then followed as by twos, threes or groups of more, the dancers were obliged to retreat into a black box which was raised and lowered throughout. Finally, a lone dancer was left outside and the work slowed to a halt. Peaceful and stressless, the piece, despite its limited choreographic language, was not without interest. The dancers wore simple shorts and T shirts of various shades of white and grey, perfectly in tune with the work.

In stark contrast, the audience was jolted bolt upright with the first clashes and clangs of Thom Willems’ score signaling the start of Forsythe’s One Flat Thing, Reproduced, a work which was brilliantly danced  by the Lyon Opera troupe who exploded on stage. Created for the Frankfurt Ballet in 2000, it entered the repertoire of the Lyon based company 4 years later and is a work they relish and know well.

Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon in One Flat Thing, Reproduced
Choreography: William Forsythe
Photo: Michel Cavalca

Fourteen dancers surge forward from the back of the stage dragging along behind them 16 rectangular, white, metallic tables. To the impressive score, they frenetically explore every possibility to dance that has been given them, edging along the table tops, sliding underneath,  dropping onto the ground and using up the space to slip their agile bodies between the sides of the tables.

With speed and with grace, they leap from table top to table top and so much is going on in so many different areas it is hard to know where to look. One becomes afraid of missing the slightest movement from this whirlwind of multicolored bodies.

Nothing is brutal or violent in this whirling, swirling, spinning mass of dancers, moving with bewildering rapidity and where one had to have one’s eyes all over the place to fully appreciate this spectacular work.

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.

[ Feedback | Home ]

If you value this page, please send it to a friend.


Copyright © 2016 Euromedia Group, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.