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[DANCE REVIEW] STOCKHOLM 59 DEGREES NORTH AT JACOB'S PILLOW

8.7.08



Stockholm 59 North [photo Mats Backer]


JACOB'S PILLOW DANCE
Stockholm 59 North
Ted Shawn Theatre
August 6-10, 2008

by Seth Rogovoy

(Becket, Mass., August 6, 2008) -- Comprised of the more adventurous dancers from the Royal Swedish Ballet, Stockholm 59 [Degrees] North is an offshoot ensemble, directed by Jens Rosen, firmly rooted in the centuries-old classical ballet while adopting an up-to-the-minute, twenty-first century approach in its choreography and production.

Thus, as seen last night in a program running through Sunday in the Ted Shawn Theatre at Jacob's Pillow, the company takes a much lighter, even humorous approach to dance -- call it modern ballet if you must -- in works by company choreographers Cristina Caprioli and Mats Ek (the program also included an evening-closing dance by CND2's Nacho Duato).

The company builds its dances around contemporary or alternative, non-balletic music -- in this case that of South African composer Kevin Volans or that of several Swedish composers and groups.

The Pillow program features Cicada, a world premiere by Italian-born Swedish choreographer Cristina Caprioli. The dance begins starkly and simply, with three ballerinas take solos in turn. The minimalist aesthetic extends to their movement -- simple gestures like slightly pulling the edges of ones skirt outward to change one's shape or silhouette, or bending in such a way that line shines on the back of a flourescent dress. Once the dance moved beyond this initial phase and incorporated men and ensemble work, its energy seemed to dissipate.

The two pieces by Matks Ek were magnificent and are signatures of the Stockholm style. They are at once lighthearded and humorous -- poking fun both at the conventions of dance and boasting serio-comic narratives -- and works of terrific virtuosity. Apartment postured a man and a woman's relationship surrounding nothing but a freestanding door -- you couldn't go over it, you couldn't go through it, but you could go around it. And his Pas de Danse, set to Swedish folk music, upended the conventions of rural Swedish life in what appeared to be a domestic drama, including an interval in which the two characters stopped in their thoughts and remembered back to their younger lives, embodied by two younger-appearing dancers who snuck in through the actual Ted Shawn's barn door.

It was lovely to see dance that took your breath away in its virtuosity and beauty but at the same time enjoyed not taking itself too seriously and incorporating a high entertainment quotient. You can't go wrong this weekend with this program.

Seth Rogovoy is Berkshire Living's editor-in-chief and award-winning critic-at-large.



Nadja Sellrup of Stockholm 59 North [photo Christopher Duggan]




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