Dance / Maria Kong's new gimmick fails to bridge the gap between idea and choreography
The story is about a woman who sees her fears and fantasies in a mirror on her wedding night.
The Maria Kong group's latest show offers a new wrinkle in dance performances: The music and lighting are controlled by a dancer on the stage.
The story is about a woman who sees her fears and fantasies in a mirror on her wedding night, and it revolves around the magician-technician - "the granter of wishes" - who controls the music and lights. But it's a pity a playbill with this information wasn't distributed, for it could have shed partial light on what happens on stage. In the absence of such information, the dancing seems to bear no relation to any plot.
There are five dancers on stage. As I understood the scene, one pair (Anderson Braz and Caroline Boussard ) are about to marry. He wears a dark suit and white shirt; she wears a skin-colored, body-hugging dress. The second couple (Artour Astman and Luciane Castro Fontanella ) is a reflection of their fears and desires, and is presided over by the granter of wishes (Ori Ben Shabat ), in a black ninja-like costume and huge white gloves that conceal the controls.
The question that arises is whether controlling the lights and music from the stage adds anything to the work. While on-stage control of the dozens of spotlights didn't make a noticeable difference, the music matched each different mood closely, with great precision. Each punch was accompanied by a boom; each hand movement was attended by the metallic sound of a screw being tightened. This method recalls cartoons in which every action is accompanied by a musical tone.
If in the past, dance was often viewed as an attempt to "visualize" music, here, the process is reversed. The result is surprising, but also disquieting, because it creates a flattening effect when music and movements flow as one. One develops a hunger for tension between them, a lack of conformity that would infuse life into the dialogue. At the same time, this flattening of movement and music may contribute to a dreamlike feeling, something enchanted, alien and lifeless, and to the atmosphere of fear sought by the choreographers.
The Maria Kong company was launched in 2009 with excellent dancers from the Batsheva troupe, who brought the style of Batsheva director Ohad Naharin with them. They have staged several performances since, and they gradually distanced themselves from his style as they sought their own dance statement.
There is no trace of the Batsheva lexicon of movement in the current work. The trouble is that while room has been made for a new language, it has not yet emerged. Perhaps the turn toward technology reflects a search for a new channel to make up for the lack of an interesting language of movement.
The dancers are good, but don't shine as they did in the past, and the main problem is that they lack material with which to express their talents. Here and there, a solo that seems to have been created by the dancer flickers briefly, like a quick one by Braz that is nipped in the bud, or an emotional solo by Boussard, who has an intriguing presence. But in general, the dancers' abilities are wasted.
The work features some interaction with soundtracks of Hollywood films about love, such as a charming bit in which Fontanella, who looks South American, starts to sing Anita's famous solo from "West Side Story." But instead of "I like to be in America," she sings, "I like to be an Israeli."
At the end of the dance performance, a singer and musician (Ravid Kahalani and Alon Amano Campino ) suddenly appear on stage playing South American music. They recall Maria Kong's first work, "Fling," in which a beautiful, elegant woman plays the violin on stage. There, too, however, the connection between her and what happens later is unclear.
A lot of effort went into this performance, as it did in earlier ones. But there is still a gap between the idea and the choreography, which remains immature.
Maria Kong Dancers Company in "Open Source." Choreography: Talia Landa in cooperation with the members of Maria Kong. Original music: Ori Ben Ari. Development and technical research: Ori Ben Shabat, Tal Ben Ari. Costume design: Miki Avni. Lighting design: Shachar Werecson. Dancers: Anderson Braz, Artour Astman, Caroline Boussard, Luciane Castro Fontanella. Granter of wishes: Ori Ben Shabat. July 23, 2012, Mediatheque Theater, Holon.