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Review 2, 2-11: Is Youth Wasted On the Young?
Not on Jeune Ballet!
Copyright 2000 Tom Patrick
to be twenty again, and bursting with talent and training! Never
fear, those of you who fear for Dance's future: There are examples
of tomorrow's stars on show at Florence Gould Hall in the Alliance
Francaise/French Institute. This year's crop of Jeune Ballet de
France, seen Thursday, consists presently of nineteen recent graduates--ages
17 to 21--from around the world, enjoying (I hope) a one-year residency
of repertory work, and cutting their professional teeth in a big
way. JBdF has since 1983 chosen a group annually to participate,
a structure which at first glance sounds like a prize-award but
is much more in deed. A revolving company situation is a complicated
one even with a constant personnel structure, but this company raises
the bar even higher with its brief tenure for it's dancers, putting
a cap on their involvement which dovetails nicely with their youthful
enthusiasm and fearlessness. Let's get to the future, they seem
to be saying, in their variety of ways....
said, I think you'll be excited by this presentation of brief dances,
in two acts, collected under the headings Contemporary Creations
by Emerging Choreographers, and Dance Pieces on French Songs. It
is a smorgasbord of voices and messages, testing these dancers extensively
with happy results, especially for the dancers and the dance audiences
of today and tomorrow. This is in several ways pleasing: a large
sampler of choreographers and moods, none predominating over the
interpreters, smartly puts the focus on the dancers, and keeps the
atmosphere onstage constantly changing.
the first duet, "Febrile" ["feverish"] by Ivan Favier, I was reassured.
Brian McKenna Maloney (American) and Bulgarian-born Emmanuella Merdjanova
took the stage with confidence and great poise, running flank-to-flank
in large shuffling circles, only to square off in opposite corners.
Nervous flicks of their feet while they stand facing each other,
conversing with their eyes. Strong low sissonnes bring them closer
together eventually, and they conjoin in some deft partnering-at-speed.
There is a wound-up, anxious air to it, which requires no bilingual
dictionary. They are fast and full of it! Both these two tore into
the floorwork with beautiful abandon, and for the first of many
times I was heartened by evidence of some very comprehensive training
housed in these sleek young things....
other cases--for example the following piece, entitled "Les Indomptes"--the
brevity was a blessing, as two shirtless men bared some of their
relationship (as envisioned by Claude Brumachon and Benjamin Lamarche)
in a vague-but-challenging duet. Here there was a little problem
with scope, as I felt that the dancers--Christian Aarne Ruutu (Finland)
and Serzhan Kaukov (Kazakstan?)--were performing for Yankee Stadium,
and I felt they would have said more by not shouting so much (in
dance terms.) A general tone in a loud voice becomes a drone, and
it made me squint for awhile....
by Ivonice Satie came next, an atmosphere-piece thick with solemnity
and to a slightly lesser degree with repetition. The dancers acquitted
themselves quite well, and I was again reminded that I will be buying
tickets to other of these dancers' performances in the future after
they are scattered to the winds and another crop of Jeune Ballet
clearly this time: These neo-pros consistently matched or outperformed
the choreography-at-hand, but no shame there. They seem able to
do anything asked (even blindfolded!), and they can do it very very
fast and clean, de rigeur in tomorrow's presumed world. I've gotten
the same tickle attending past concerts of the Julliard Dance Ensemble:
Wow, what lies ahead for such already-developed talent! Through
song after song, they toss off astonishing partnering and heartfelt
interpretations, bursting with the Juice of Life. So what if some
of the evening's seventeen sections held inscrutable histrionics
or sluggish introspection? The evening's winners were all of us,
as JBdF's dancers displayed such enviable articulation and artistry.
I was deeply impressed by their sophisticated understanding and
excellent training, and for this I must also send kudos to their
staff for the immense work such an annual/ongoing undertaking must
demand of them. Would that a Flash Review permitted me the extensive
time for them all to receive the praise they deserve. (Except, sad-to-say,
stage management at the Gould, where terrible bow cues undercut
the relief and reward of our ovations again and again.)
this is a most auspicious and benevolent appearance for all of us:
there is much to hope and watch for in the coming years, if Jeune
Ballet is any indication....Do yourself a favor: See them this weekend!
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