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Flash Review 1, 10-12: "Rain"drops from the Reine of Reich
De Keersmaeker's Latest a Reason to Pray for "Rain"

By Shena Wilson
Copyright 2001 Shena Wilson

(Editor's Note: The following is the fifth of our month-long series of reports from around the world celebrating the 20th anniversary of Anne De Keersmaeker's company Rosas. To read more reports, please type "De Keersmaeker," "Rosas," or "P.A.R.T.S." into the search engine window on our Home page.)

TORONTO -- Rosas does "Rain" at Harbourfront's World Moves dance series: I admit my total and purposeful ignorance of what I was to see this rainy eve. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's reputation precedes her; I won't recap here. Having just returned from a dear friend's wedding that took me to Manhattan, Brooklyn and Tuxedo, New York this past week, I am still reeling from a full gamut of emotions and longed to stretch my mind tonight into dance. "Rain," created earlier this year and the most recent work by De Keersmaeker, is the most unpredictable trip of movement that I've seen in ages. I did marvel at the excellence of the eclectic bouquet of dancers, but got tired of the admittedly entrancing music by Steve Reich (Music for 18 Musicians). About fifteen minutes before the end of this seventy-minute production I felt that I was satiated, as it were, but they were not quite finished. And so, after a sigh of contentment, I dove willingly back into the trance for the remainder of the piece. I was carried away, far away. Thankfully.

The performers were dressed by Dries Van Noten in muted beige and pinks, with various filmy dresses for the women and simple shirts and cotton trousers for the three men. Five of the six women made several intriguing costume changes while one woman and one man remained in their original clothing throughout. A street style. I won't delve into the intricacies of the groupings and running, the fast flops, the quick echoes of steps and sequences, all of which were executed with remarkable precision, especially considering the tricky and almost seamless score. However, my favorite passages include those with the three men working beautifully together. Signature steps throughout here do not become tedious, but homogenize. In this company -- and here I can use the word company in its truest form -- there is a strength, and terrific aplomb that translates as generosity to the audience, sans that nasty self-absorption thing that tends to creep into dance-for-dance-sake pieces.

The floor is taped with various geometric colors, as in a gymnasium. Sometimes the nine dancers look like a group of school children, then older friends, then city-dwellers -- one can read whimsically into this, and this is precisely the fun of "Rain." It is seamless and open, clean-cut and fluid. I was never sure what would happen next. Ever.

Long tasseled ropes, like drapery cords, hung from high above, a curved curtain of gray cords along the back of the stage. At various times these are rippled through, crashed into. A water effect. A waterfall arc framing the children playing inside it -- perhaps. A French expression comes to mind: il pleut des cords (it's raining cats and dogs). It's raining ropes. On stage, and as it happens, as I write this, most of today in Toronto.

There's terrific release and strength and a relaxed atmosphere of camaraderie between the dancers that immediately engages. As charming ASW, this evening's discerning companion, rightly noted, we can imagine each of the dancers as a little kid, dancing alone at night in his or her room, obeying that insatiable need to move. With just a mirror and a tune in the head.

For the first three minutes I was unsure if I was going to enjoy "Rain" -- due to the music. It is just not entirely relaxing to me, or not what I;d flick on for a Sunday afternoon to accompany coffee, indulgent reading and probable napping. In fact, I find it ranges between rather grating -- thanks to a plunky shrill hum of xylophones and such -- and pleasantly numbing. Nevertheless, I was not distracted by it to the point that I did not delve fully into the dance. I was gladly caught in the flow of the movement. And, as the water drops still fall on my balcony railing, I realize that I'd even go back to "Rain." The intricacies and energies of De Keersmaeker's "Rain" are too sumptuous to be gathered in one evening.

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