Rosas - Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker
'(but if a look should) April me'
by Rosella Simonari
18th September 2003 -- La Monnaie/De Munt, Bruxelles
What usually impresses me about De Keersmaeker are the titles of her works: "I said I", "Drumming", "Small hands (out of the lie of no)" and "(but if a look should) April me". In this case it took me a little while to figure out the syntactical meaning of this bracketed-and-not-bracketed phrase ... then I realised that you need a post-structural approach to her language: you cannot think in linear, chronological terms, it just doesn't work.
This work she has represented at the splendid theatre La Monnaie, where Rosas is Company-in-Residence, is a complex work which takes inspiration from Nijinska's "Les Noces" (1923), an almost ritualistic piece on the celebration of a Russian peasant wedding. De Keersmaeker's version opens up with a scene 'infested' with tables, pieces of furnitures and different other materials. It seems a site in construction where dancers do appear here and there to perform small and short choreographic phrases. Little by little they begin to dismantle this site. They deconstruct the scenography within their movement vocabulary.
They are dressed alike, all in different shades of torquoise or baby blue, except for one male dancer who wears a striped skirt of red and other bright colours. Men wearing skirts, women wearing skirts, men in trousers, women in trousers….almost all bare-chested bare-breasted. In their abstract articulation of space/place their body shapes and movements declare thier difference, their uniqueness. From collective mad runs around the stage to some pas de deux and solo pieces they alternate in fragmented in-progress dances. At the back the Ensemble Ictus re/sound live with their different percussive instruments.
After the interval, red shocks our eye -- red as the main colour on stage. It is the marriage celebration: a joyful, ironic and pantagruelian scene quite distant from the darkish flavour of Nijinska's "Les Noces" even if echoing it via the initial all women piece. These women do not go en pointe but they do wear high heels, thus attracting the audience's attention to their feet in both a different and yet similar manner. They move as the chorus of a Greek tragedy, the bride in shining white, emerges among them. And then the men all in black suits except for the bridegroom in white to properly match with his wife-to-be. The scenography is changed, some working tables surround the space and those structures laying everywhere at the beginning are now placed so as to close the scenery from the musicians' side in the background.
Soon all this structure is again removed to let the party run free. The bride in particular runs wildly back and forth stripping off her voluminous dress, lingerie included. By this stage the whole group has turned into small groups each one following their own dancing path. The bridegroom watches a football match with a mate, the bride runs into the audience carrying some clothes with her, one of the women in red, now in her lingerie, moves slowly in accordance with a musician who plays his music beside her.
It is an adventure in itself
to watch this performance. If Nijinska's "Le Noces" reflected
the severe and necessary scene of a Russian wedding, De Keersmeaker focuses
on the joyful and at the same time futile meaning of a wedding of today.
Edited by Jeff.
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