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[DANCE REVIEW] CND2 at Jacob's Pillow

Ted Shawn Theatre
June 21-25, 2006

Violon D'Ingres

Review by Seth Rogovoy, critic-at-large, Berkshire Living

Audience favorite CND2 kicks off the summer season at Jacob's Pillow this week with a lively, varied program showcasing the Spanish company's devotion to precise, theatrical modern ballet.

The evening was programmed well, with the opening dance, Remansos, establishing the style and vocabulary for those who weren't familiar with the company's unique grammar, combining a classical foundation with freedom of imagination and, in this case particuarly, an impish sense of humor.

Remansos, like all of CND2's work, is also intensely visual. But all dance is visual you might say. But CND2's dance is visual in the sense of visual arts -- the dances are as much snapshots of tableaux, one after the other. THere is not a lot of running around in CND2's dance, but there is constant movement broken up by gestural poses -- imagine watching a movie by stopping each frame for a moment. This almost strobelike effect serves to anchor the dance and allows the viewer to luxuriate in the nearly sculptural scenarios that border on narrative.

In the case of Remansos, the drama centered around a red rose that popped out of the floor, and a white square centered on the black backdrop that loomed almost like the monolith from 2001 but wound up serving multiple purposes -- as a place to hide behind, a wall of separation, or a climbing structure. The piece was danced to Valses Poeticos by Enrique Granados, solo and duo piano works, and the dance always stuck close to the music -- another characteristic of CND2's work. The language of the piece included fluid movements and intertwining of bodies into newly created organisms that recalled work by Pilobolus; there was a strong sense of play, but also of architectural precision, strengthened no doubt by carefully engineered lighting and costumes that made limbs stand out from trunks.

Violon D'Ingres was a crowd pleaser in the best sense: almost totally choreographed to incarnate the string music of Paganini, Bach, Grieg, Vivaldi, and Saint-Saens, the dance used the same grammar as Remansos but to greatly different effect. Even as the dancers became the literal incarnations of the vibrating strings -- and that vocabulary was remarkable, a veritable thesaurus of physical vibrations, it never lost its humanity, finding the human voice in the strings, and telling human stories.

The concluding piece, Rassemblement, was the most humanist of all, with music drawn from various Haitian traditions. It was also the most narrative, self consciously telling a story about colonialism and slavery. The music and movement drew on African styles -- African drumming matched by hip shakes, loose arms, and head twirls. The most remarkable moment was when a male solo dancer was a spider- or scorpionlike creature; the most painful moment came immediately after when he was captured and beaten by his tormentors. The political narrative was a bit heavy handed, and the conclusion, with the repetition of the word "liberte" a bit sentimental. But in all, it made for a well-rounded evening of dance that the audience loved, as much for its sheer spectacle as for its imagination and intellectual provocation.

The second company of the Compania Nacional de Danza, CND2 was founded by choreographer Nacho Duato as a training company and creative incubator. The dancers are younger, many not even legally adults, but they all display the net result of top-notch classical training without letting it get in the way of the personality and expressiveness that Duato and co-artistic director, Tony Fabre, ask of them.

---Seth Rogovoy, critic-at-large, Berkshire Living

Thank you for your timely review. Perhaps you or someone could answer me a question: How come the review of this show in the hometown newspaper, the Berkshire Eagle, did not appear until Saturday, when your review appeared first thing Friday, as did the review in the NEW YORK TIMES, and there was even a review of the show, which opened on Wednesday night, in Thursday's ALBANY TIMES UNION?? Why does it take so long -- practically until the show's run is already over -- for the Berkshire Eagle to run its dance reviews?

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