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Beauty, Abused

by Kate D. Ariail

Emanuel Gat presented the world premiere of his work K626 in Page Auditorium on June 29. If the world is lucky, after the three ADF performances, this piece will sink to its deserved level of obscurity.

The work makes use of - and abuses - Mozart's Requiem Mass, K.626. I cannot say the choreography is set to the music: mostly, it is set against the music, which Gat calls "a script and soundtrack to the piece." This anti-musicality seems to be Gat's thing. The pieces he presented last year were made the same way. Possibly the intention is to create a tension between the two forms and illuminate each in the process, but if so, it is not working.

What was annoying and disappointing when done with Schubert and Stravinsky was arrogant and insulting when done with Mozart's sublime last work. I can think of only two reasons one might break apart this music and design a bunch of ass-twitching, shoulder-shimmying, disco-dive movements to co-exist in time - and out of tempo - with it. One: you are trying to make a Big Statement on the degraded condition of Culture/your society/the world by chopping and sliming something pure and true, and holding up the result as a metaphor. Two: you are trying to make a Big Post-modern Statement about artistic and aesthetic values being cultural constructs. Just because people have been responding to the pain and beauty in Mozart's Requiem for 200+ years doesn't mean that those qualities really exist in the music - another way to understand it is as just another game. Hey, it means whatever you want it to mean! It's all relative to the viewer or listener; there is no truth to be found or known.

According to the program notes, this piece "is exploring the possibilities lying in working with icons: Mozart's Requiem, women dancing and dance itself. The starting point for the choreography is the relevance of dance as the core material for a dance piece - not movement, concept, visual effects or text, but dance itself."

The relevance of dance as core material for a dance piece? The mind boggles. On top of this pile-on Gat considers this piece "an attempt to look into the classical and contemporary ideas of female dancing." What? Maybe in Israel they don't have many all-female dance troupes and therefore ten women (and no men) on stage brings up questions of gender roles, but here it just seems retrograde to make a point of it, especially in the shallow, simplistic manner Gat chooses.

What else? There's a whiff of meanness and, I think, a breath of misogyny in this work. The choreography is monotonous, and the costumes are ugly. A row of lights across the front of the stage blocks the view of the dancers' feet. Maybe the saddest thing of all is that the dancers can move beautifully – but they are given no beautiful moves to make.

   
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