because the personal is cultural
It is with a feeling of dread that I write this review. The same feeling inhabited me last night when I was watching the triple program offered by BJM Danse. It is a feeling that I would rather shrug off, but that persists as I sit down to write. I am hoping that acknowledging it might lessen its hold on me to make the impending task less gruesome. Thirteen dancers from the company stand side by side for the opening of Mauro Bigonzetti’s Rossini Cards. One of the men slowly removes his jacket and gives it to the person standing next to him. He then takes off his pants and gives them to the dancer on the other side. In his skin-colored underwear, he takes a step forward… and falls offstage, out of sight. This humorous surprise is sadly the high point of the entire show.
Bigonzetti’s work is a series of tableaux that, by wanting to be everything, fail to be anything. The fragmented style reveals an inability to incorporate different elements into a cohesive whole, choreographically as well as thematically. So we look for the semblance of a thread… With its garish dinner table and conspicuous ballet exits, it might be a satire of bourgeois taste. Even if it is, it has so little bite that it ends up being all the more bourgeois.
As a series of mostly solos and duets that remain disconnected, Bigonzetti also makes poor use of the thirteen dancers at his disposal. In the more theatrical sections, their acting skills prove to be weak.
For a work that is meant to fill such a big stage as that of Théâtre Maisonneuve at Place des arts, Rossini Cards lacks punch. It is so bland, in fact, that you’d swear it were a Grands Ballets Canadiens show.
The second piece, Cayetano Soto’s Zero In On, has the benefit of being clearer due to its brevity: a mere seven minutes. A strip of light hanging from the ceiling comes all the way down to the floor. It is an ingenious way of cutting the stage down by a third since there are but two dancers occupying it. Interestingly enough, their skin-tight costumes are also the colour of their flesh, a contemporary dance fad that clearly needs to be over. By wanting to be invisible, these costumes are only all the more distracting.
Just when you think it can’t go downhill any more, it turns out that the worse has in fact been kept for last. Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Zip Zap Zoom pertains to be inspired by video games, if only in a vain attempt to create a distinct personality for itself. A visually busy video projection at the back of the stage provides us with much of this context, taking our attention away from the dance itself. Flirting with urban dance somehow makes the dancers walk around like they’re grownups playing teenagers on Watatow. The soundtrack, trying to infuse the choreography with an energy it doesn’t possess, is as obnoxious as it is eclectic.
The show might not have been a play, but it still turned out to be a three-act tragedy.
BJM Danse Montréal
January 20-22 at 8pm
dansedanse.net / laplacedesarts.com
514.842.2112 / 1.866.842.2112
Tickets start at 21.37$
SPEAKING OF satire, emerging choreographer Patrick Lloyd Brennan is showing his latest creation, The New Bourjoiesie, in an intimate loft in Old Montreal this weekend. With a few dance sequences, the highly theatrical show plays like John Waters at his most inspired. For more information, visit the Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=169566319752882
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.
s.verstricht [at] gmail [dot] com