Dance, Dance-Theatre Review Print



A Chilly Evening in Summer

June 27, 2005 - Durham, NC:


ADF follows up the warm and happy Festival of the Feet with a cold, slightly bitter chaser in the form of Emanuel Gat Dance Company, which began its three-day run in Reynolds Theater on June 27 (see our calendar for details). The small company from Tel Aviv performs two works choreographed, lit and costumed by Gat for their brief program.

The first, Winter Voyage, is danced to (unspecified) Lieder by Franz Schubert – but I use the word "to" loosely. The music and the dance exist during the same time period, but their relationship to each other is opaque, at best. The rhythms, the tempi, the starting and stopping of motion sequences seem to align with those of the music only occasionally and only by random chance. It is very peculiar. The dancing by Gat and Roy Assaf is sinuous and coldly powerful with an aggressive edge, with many unexpected moves and arresting images, but neither the style of movement nor its emotional tone have much to do with those of the music, which of course is beautiful, full of warm tones, romantic melancholy and longing. Although the choreography is intelligent and the dancing strong, I found it difficult to appreciate them fully because of the disconnect between the dance and the music.

Winter Voyage left me cold, but I was fully expecting to warm to The Rite of Spring, danced to the Stravinsky music. Billed as salsa dance to Stravinsky, I thought it couldn't fail. It would certainly, I thought, not be done as the cool, conceptual game that Shen Wei made of the work a few seasons ago. But I was wrong. Although bathed in red light and danced mainly on a red carpet, the Emanuel Gat Rite was no warmer and no closer to the primal than Shen Wei's had been.

Again, Gat had devised many powerful sequences for the two men and three women, all of whom move gorgeously, with the grace of large cats. But they were ciphers, absent of personality or emotion or sexual fire. Worse, the flashing salsa moves did not sync up with the music. The music builds to a wild crescendo – the dance continues at an even pace. The music calms – the dance speeds up. The music pauses – the dance goes on. The music rises to its frenzied climax, timpani pounding – the dancers lie still. I suppose it says something about the dancers' powers of concentration that they were able to move against Stravinsky's driving sounds, but it made me crazy to watch. What should be an intense fecundate ritual is here barren and fruitless, and it does no honor to the great music that supposedly inspired it.