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Danceforms - 'The 48th International Choreographers' Showcase'
Published on Sunday, 16 August 2009

Danceforms is a showcase in two disctinct parts. What's most beguiling about the first, A Propos de Butterfly, is Madame Butterfly herself. In this reinterpretation of Puccini’s opera, she is a marionette; animated in the hands of her puppeteer, but limp without him. A beautiful duet based on weight and momentum develops between the two, which almost overshadows the whole piece.

A reference to her puppets being the “spirits of her ancestors” only serves to highlight how fitting the interpretation of her as a marionette is; no matter how much she loves Pinkerton, she cannot shake off the shackles of her family, culture and religion. In love, Butterfly (Daniela Luca) becomes more expansive in her movement, expressing her yearning by leaning out at 45 degree angles and almost breaking free of her keeper. I wondered if with marriage, Pinkerton would take over the control of her, but she is her family’s daughter until the bitter end. Her vulnerability is shown physically through her bound breasts and bare arms, as she reaches out to slice the air and then herself.

Captain Pinkerton dances with a casual insouciance, not unlike his treatment of Butterfly, nor (some might claim) the American foreign policy to which strong parallels are made. His mode of dance is fluid and modern, littered with references to samba and moon walking. That their dancing doesn’t match only serves to highlight the real lack of connection between him and Butterfly.

Using film, the audience is provided with an amusing synopsis of the play, as well as choreographer José Besprosvany’s personal fears for this production and his thoughts on the opera itself. The filmed sequences work for the synopsis and Besprosvany’s personal history, but less so with his doubts – since he is actually onstage at times, it might have been better live. However, he uses humour to raise pertinent questions about the relevance of dance, modernity and dying for honour, as well as his goals for combining dance and story - and changing the world.

The second half of this programme, which presents five short works, is less successful, at times reaching only an amateur standard of dance. The dancer in the first piece moves with a nice sense of efficiency and control, but the choreography is only average. Dressed in black leather and shrouded in red netting, the dancer in the third piece looks like she’s starring in a John Galliano perfume advertisement; this piece has the most dramatic atmosphere but the dance lacks the same level of sparkle.

The final piece, with four dancers, shows promise in moments only; one dancer dressed in a wine-coloured costume moves with a sharply defined tension, as if drawn with a deft bold line, which is exciting to watch. But unfortunately, overall, the second half is not really worth staying for; some people walked out and I can understand why.

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