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Review 1, 6-17: Rite of Passages
An Industrial 'Spring' and other Hybrids from Lionel Hoche
By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2003 Maura Nguyen Donohue
NEW YORK -- Danspace
Project presented an exhilarating program this past weekend at St.
Mark's Church, with Lionel Hoche/MeMe BaNjO from France as part
of the presenter's Global Exchange program. The evening consisted
of two exhaustive works, both US premieres, that each served as
perfect ballast for the other.
Hoche created "Verska"
for MeMe BaNjO's 10th anniversary. The work blended choreography
and performers from two previous company works, "Versants" and "Kadavresky."
It opened with a tableau of draped bodies, seemingly flung or lounging
in the altar of St. Mark's. Hoche emerged from the group of bodies
and performed a solo that draped and slid across the space, and
down a stage-left column, like a late-night batch of martinis. A
transitional sequence that brought all of the khaki clad dancers
into the space ended up feeling like a Gap ad after hours. Thankfully,
the poseur nature was fleeting and one man took up the role of voyeur
as he observed a woman dancing. She was sensual, moving lusciously
and entirely aware of his attention as she met his gaze and continued
The meeting of two separate
works made for a bit of mix and match sense of choreographic vocabulary
with many sequences proving very satisfying as separate pieces but
not blending into a seamless whole. Regardless, the company of dancers
was uniformly exquisite, with each performer striking different
and unique highpoints when provided with the opportunity. In a way,
the piecemeal aesthetic of "Verska" managed to reveal Hoche's substantial
array of stylistic influences and experience. When the group briefly
achieves a moment of unity there is no doubt that the choreographer
intended to construct relief out of the compositional chaos of moments
Hoche's "Rite of Spring"
matched Stravinsky's riotous score with a ferocious vigor. While
the well-known narrative thread of this notorious work might have
hindered a less rigorous choreographer, it's a perfect match for
Hoche. The maiden, Celine Zordia, wandered through a forest of industrial,
fluorescent lanterns before being joined by Marielle Girard and
Loren Palmer in a dance that resembles a highly aggressive girl
school hazing. Emmanuel Le Floch and Cedric Lequileuc oozed sleeze
in a predatory approach to the women, who willingly participate
in sacrificing one of their flock. Hoche manages to capture primal
images of male and female, stalker and prey in violent, frenetic
masses of movement.
Lazare Garcin's costumes,
variations of glittering black and red, and Philippe Favier's set
of lanterns place the work in a seedy warehouse-cum-disco, and the
ancient ritual as taking place last Saturday night. The dance incited
such a formidable visceral response to its crescendos of relentless,
brutal movement that I felt as exhausted and breathless as the collapsed
maiden just before the lights bumped to black.
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