New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women and girls.
Click here to see a sample of our products and a
list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always performance at its best.
Go back to Flash Reviews
Review Journal, 12-19: Dancers on Film
The Menagerie Reflects; Rizzo Reduces; Toumanova at the Front
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2003 The Dance Insider
Sponsor a Flash!
PARIS -- This is a movie
town, where film, like dance, is more affordable and thus a bigger
part of the cultural mix for more people. Four or so times per year,
prices city-wide are reduced to 3 Euros (or about $3.60) a pop,
most theaters offer discounted tickets for adherents, regular admission
at the Cinematheque Francais is under $6, and your $50 yearly membership
at the Pompidou Centre includes free admission to its film festivals,
essentially a second national cinematheque. In the summer, the parc
at La Villette, showing free films on a giant inflatable screen,
is a popular picnic destination, while another festival shows films,
also for free, at sites that feature in them. So it's not surprising
that for its new work created in residency at the Menagerie de verre
to open the recent Inaccoutumes (or Unaccustomed) festival, the
collective Fin Novembre should have chosen to try to create a bridge
between dance and film. Also not surprising, considering the virtual
embargo here on most of the dance waves created in the US over the
last 20 years, is that the ground tread is not as new as the creators
might think it is.
I'll admit to chuckling
when two of the female dancers mimicked, live and on a screen at
the back of the Menagerie's cavernous basement space, an excerpt
(also screened for us) of Bruce Lee battling Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
in "Game of Death," Lee's final film. Their filmed encounter, a
battle royal around the ivory environs of the Menagerie, was particularly
drolly executed, a relief from much of the unengaged post-modern
dancing I see here. But when Rachid Ouramdane started providing
the high-pitched grunting for their real-time duel, I had to roll
my eyes; Doug Elkins was doing this 15 years ago. But don't hold
your breath for Elkins to be invited to the Menagerie de verre,
the Rencontres Choregraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis,
or any of the other festivals in the Paris area, which rarely expose
French audiences to anything that's happened in American dance since
Bill T. Jones.
This gap is French presenters'
and tour funders' prerogative, of course. But I think it's fair
to consider the ramifications of the French exclusion when reviewing
dance productions or venues that purport to be experimenting with
new forms, and in so doing seem unaware that American artists have
been delving into those forms for a long time. It's a provincial
sort of experimentation, showing things new to them but not necessarily
to the form. One might well ask, where were Fanny De Chaille, Nicolas
Floc'h, Sophie Laly, Julie Nioche, Rachid Ouramdane and Emanuele
Quinz (the creators and interpreters of this piece) when Doug Elkins
was Kung Fu Fighting?
There was true novelty
on this first program in this fall's Inaccoutumes festival, and
Ouramdane figured in that, too, delivering a virtuoso performance
in precision in Christian Rizzo's "Skull Cult." The cloying sub-title
to this piece, created in 2002, is "An invitation from Rachid Ouramdane
to Christian Rizzo; a proposition from Christian Rizzo for Rachid
Ouramdane." Considering that "Skull Cult" premiered outdoors at
the summer festival in Avignon, this proposition included the cruel
proviso that the performer be clad in dark leather from ankle to
neck, a motorcycle helmut, and cloth covering his face.
The movement is of the
type that's challenging for me to do justice to as a reviewer, but
I'll try: It was small, restrained but tense, controlled and arrested.
Movement of this tempo is sometimes called "Butoh-like," but when
I think Butoh, I think serenity, or at least calm, and this was
coiled. I formed the impression of a brother from another planet
adjusting to our different gravity, essaying to find his body again,
or maybe trying to shed his skin. The music, also sparingly used,
was chiefly The Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreaming," piped
in as if from remote about two-thirds into the piece, and then repeated
in segments. Usually it's difficult for me to watch dances performed
largely in aural silence, but the timing of this cue, its far-away
lyrics and its far-away volume worked as a tonic to the performer's
tension. Alternately, you could see it -- the remote aspect of the
music -- as the muted way the performer/character might have been
hearing it from under his heavy gear or distant planet.
If dancers are drawn to film, film has always been drawn to dance,
and dance in film is not ghettoized to dance film festivals here.
I mentioned the Pompidou Centre, to which I've got an annual membership
for two ($100) which gets me into everything. Lately that includes
a complete retrospective of the films of Jacques Tourneur, the French-born
American director best-known for the 1942 "Cat People" and the 1947
film noir "Out of the Past." But Tourneur's prolific oeuvre also
includes the 1944 war-time propaganda film "Days of Glory," which
introduced to movie audiences Gregory Peck and, playing opposite
Peck romantically, Tamara Toumanova.
Peck plays the leader
of a group of Soviet peasants fighting a rear-guard action against
Nazi troupes in Russia. Toumanova's character is a famous ballerina
on her way to tour the front when she gets lost and rescued by a
member of the resistance cadre. Thus, one of Gregory Peck's first
lines on the screen, when he's informed who's coming to dinner,
is "Just what we need here: a dancer."
Toumanova proves him
wrong, of course. She ends up shooting a German soldier who discovers
the underground hide-out just as she's about to give an impromptu
performance, and goes down fighting by Peck's side, swearing allegiance
to the Soviet army and her wedding oath to him, in that order.
"Days of Glory," starring
Tamara Toumanova and Gregory Peck, repeats this Sunday at 5 p.m.,
January 3 at 3 p.m., and January 11 at 6 p.m. at the Pompidou Centre.
Go back to Flash Reviews