By Alexis Soloski
By Molly Grogan
By R. C. Baker
By Christian Viveros-Faun√©
By Alexis Soloski
By Alexis Soloski
By Lilly Lampe
Thomas Ruperts handsome set of three ten-foot-high, white-paneled walls could be construed as anything from a health club to an antechamber to who knows what. The performers can lounge inor peer down fromwindows in the rear wall and hoist themselves onto shelves sticking out of the side walls. Rattling or thunderous sounds and snatches of sweet music in Koen Keevels score add to the ambiguous atmosphere, and Remko van Welys lighting makes no allusions to nature or the hour of the day. Wherever the five are, they have no pressing agendas.
Their behavior is so ordinary that its a surprise when they exhibit dancerly skills, but these are so casually integrated into their everyday behavior that even Dario Tortorellis pirouettes and the thrusting of Martijn Kapperss long, straight, limbs look like parts of speech. Dancing is just one of the things they do to pass the time or fling out challenges. After Javier Vaquero Ollero, Froilán Medina Hernández, Tortorelli, and Kappers have managed to join in a unison passage, they stop and look back at Kevin Polak, as if to say Are you with us or not?
Rivalries and conspiracies develop, but nothing looks really brutal, partly because of Janssens leavening of wit. Three of them grab Tortorelli, restrain him, walk him up a wall, deposit him on a high shelf, and slope off. When Kappers and Polak are done with a strenuous, contentious duet, Polak drops to the floor and Kappers sits on him, thinking. Small hostilities are directed at Ollero (did I see someone try to kick his face?), but he bounces back. Which brings me to the significance of the title. These fellows are not only resilient, they literally rebound. Polak clues us in to this when his head appears over the top of the high back wall. Who could have imagined a hidden, micd trampoline?
After they pull the trampoline forward through the back wall as if opening a big drawer, the mood gradually lightens, although not everyone is into jumping up and down. The men partner one another amicably. Kappers sings to himself. Hernández teaches some steps, Polak adds to them, and a crazy canon develops. Suddenly the guys boisterousness becomes only playful. And then everything winds down. What a day! Anyone for a beer?
Lets hope that Conny Janssen Danst gets a New York City gig before much more time passes.
In Nacho Duatos Castrati, the nine men of Stockholm 59º North form an artistic universe miles away from the men of Janssens Rebound. Duatos subject is the castration of promising boy singers in 18th-century Italy to produce a high, florid voice for baroque opera. Castratis fierce rituals, set primarily to sacred music by Vivaldi, depersonalize the men as severely as the loss of testicles changed the lives of those real little boys. Rushing about in their long, black, open-fronted skirts (half priestly garb, half female attire), they swoop down on the terrified new recruit like dark birds. In Duatos very dramatic scenario, those who were once victimized for their greater glory (and their familys income) evidently consider it their mission to do unto others what was done to them. The men of Stockholm 59º North perform the several striking passages of fanatical high-intensity dancing as forcefully as members of Duatos own Compañia Nacional de Danza did at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last year, and the audience gets high on the mix of powerful male display and shudder-inducing cruelty.
These dancers are all members of the Royal Swedish Ballet, eager to experience new contemporary choreography. Jens Rosén, who played the new recruit in Duatos work, is the groups artistic director. The earlier part of the Jacobs Pillow program consisted of two short pieces by Mats Ek, whose work is rarely seen in the U.S., and a world premiere by Cristina Caprioli, whose choreography has never been presented here.
Eks Apartment is a U.S. premiere. A free-standing white door sets up an encounter between two high-spirited people. The woman gears herself up to knock, but the mans hand reaches around it to stroke her suggestively. The door never opens. To music for piano and strings by Innocent Fläskkvartetten, the pair (I saw Jeannette Diaz-Barboza and Nikolaus Fotiadis) cavort with the kind clumsy charm youd expect from a girl who wears a bouffant blue skirt and blue socks to match. Ek is very good at clumsiness. The man bunches up his partner and lugs her around; he drags her by one foot while she, sitting, mimes playing a flute. Their bodies fit together in odd ways, and even the occasional tender touch looks a bit off-key. In the end, they both disappear behind the door. Then she totes him offstage piggyback.