Friday, April 29, 2011


I bought tickets, months and months in advance, to see famous choreographer Edouard Lock's new work (called "New Work"). And now it's finally coming to Montreal.

Lock's opus premiered in Amsterdam. Here's the review (from The Gazette):
La La La Human Steps began its fourth decade auspiciously in Amsterdam this week with the world premiere of Edouard Lock's latest major work largely involving new dancers, a distinguished guest artist in the person of Diana Vishneva of Russia's Maryinsky Ballet, and, most significantly, choreography of great depth, subtlety, range of movement and emotional resonance. Publicized rather oddly only as "Edouard Lock's New Work," the 95-minute piece could well be his finest creation.

On Thursday, throughout the second performance of the three-day Amsterdam run, there was evidence that Lock pushed beyond the parameters that he established in Amelia (2002) and Amjad (2007), works that emphasized brilliant duets for men fiercely gesticulating and women on point spinning like tops.

Never fear, the new work had plenty of gesticulation and fantastic spinning by both the women on point as well as the men -the 12-member cast outfitted in familiar La La La black was a marvel. But at times for purposes of dramatic contrast, Lock allowed body lines to become looser, more relaxed, without the relentless tension seen in the earlier works. Instead of extended clinches, couples in duets separated for longer intervals and at a farther distance on the big Het Muziektheater stage (comparable to Salle Wilfrid Pelletier's).

Lock also unusually had his dancers often sprawling on the floor. Indeed, after the on-stage four-member band played an overture of Gavin Bryars' music (his pseudo-Baroque score was a highlight throughout the work, with a particularly poignant saxophone), the curtain rose on the floor-bound arched figure of Talia Evtushenko, her arm raised plaintively. Regularly the floor came into play during intense exchanges between couples.

Each time that the dancers came together after separating or rose up from the floor to find each other, there was dramatic, emotional reconciliation (frequently followed immediately by another breakup -these were people bound by an emotional vicious circle). Lock is the most unsentimental of choreographers, but his work nonetheless regularly shows people trying desperately to make connections with other people, however brief or in vain.

This was certainly evident in this latest piece, which was inspired, according to the publicity, by two classic tales of love, Dido and Aeneas, and Orfeo and Eurydice. Lock took not their plots, but their evocation of passion and poignant awareness that all relations, not matter how intense, are slaves of human mortality. At intervals, two large vertical screens were lowered in parallel showing a pretty young woman on one side in a touching visual conversation with a version of her old self on the other. Aging and its ultimate end were inevitable, and no amount of spinning or vigorous movement, the entire work implied, could delay one's fate.

The final statement on this came in a closing duet with Vishneva and veteran company member Jason Shipley-Holmes, the coolest and most reliable of partners. With a lyricism unusual for Lock, the two calmly bid an extended farewell, Vishneva demonstrating the relaxed ease, fine line and expressiveness that make her outstanding as Giselle and Odette-Odile. The last image of Vishneva alone on the ground, her body arched over her one extended leg, patently evoked the Dying Swan, a coy but highly effective little homage from Lock.

The participation of the world-famous artist came after she searched for some high-profile choreographers to prepare pieces for her in a one-off show. Lock was considered. Although the two were unable to collaborate on that show, Lock felt there was potential to work together.

Vishneva spent an intensive month in Montreal preparing her role. Rehearsals regularly lasted until midnight. Though she was accustomed to memorizing big parts (she's performing three large-scale classical ballets this year including La Bayadere with the Maryinsky in Ottawa in February), Lock's work was demanding even for her.

"This feels like ballet for the 21st century," Vishneva said in a back-stage interview after the show. "After this, classical ballet feels like slow motion."

Almost everything connected with the rehearsal was a challenge.

"First I learned the steps slowly, but then I was having sleepless nights wondering how I could ever perform them fast the next day. And we rehearsed without mirrors or music. Never had I worked that way! I heard the music for the final duet just two days before the premiere. But Edouard asked me to trust him, and I did. I danced through his eyes."

Vishneva will dance in selected cities on the company's European tour and also in Montreal in May (but not in Toronto). Undoubtedly Lock will fiddle with the work before it gets to Montreal, hopefully adding a slow duet for Vishneva that was dropped because of an injury to her partner. But the performance this week showed unusual polish for a Lock premiere.

Equally up to the challenge were the splendid company members hired last year -Diego Castro, Mi Deng, Sandra Muhlbauer, Marcio Vinicius Paulino Silveira, Grace-Anne Powers, Alejandra Salamanca Lopez, William Lee Smith and Kai Zhang. Statuesque veteran Zofia Tujaka rounded out the formidable cast.

And here's a first peek of some of the pieces, performed in New York:

Edouard Lock's Wikipedia page:Édouard_Lock

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