March 27, 2012
by Horst Koegler
copyright 2012 by Horst Koegler
With its third programme in its “Bodies Languages” series, Stuttgart strengthened its reputation of the continent´s foremost forge of choreographic talents. Any new creation of a ballet means a risk. However, a programme of three new successful pieces comes up a smash. And this is what happened at the company´s first appearance in the city´s newly renovated Schauspiehaus, home of the local drama company.
Of these three, Goecke seems to me not only the most gifted, but also the most individual one. I am tempted to compare him with the British Wayne McGregor (who has also worked with the Stuttgart before he was appointed resident choreographer of the Royal Ballet). But while McGregor concentrates on studies connected with the neuroscience researches at the universities, Goecke seems to be interested more in exploring the possibilities of body muscle mechanics beyond the normal danse d´école system.
He puts his men mostly in black billowing trousers (designed by Michaela Springer), with naked torsos, withthe girls in appropriate black bodices, and he presents them very often with the backs towards the audience, so that one can watch the play of each individual muscle, with their arms, hands and fingers contributing their labyrinthic ornaments. It often seems that the arms are working on their own – in complete contrast to Balanchine´s laconic use of port de bras. Also in complete contrast to Balanchine Goecke´s enchainements do not seem to originate in the music, but rather to produce the music and sounds by themselves. His new piece is based on a sound collage of Ligeti and pop songs by Herbert Scharr and they establish a weird sound-scape of their own. Another personal feature of his movement vocabulary is his working not in fluent phrases, but in minimizing its elementary particles, almost to the degree of atomizing them. One has the impression of watching the process in a laboratory of creating mini-chips, piscel perhaps, of movement and putting them together. It looks crazy and frantic, quivering like a bee-hive, and certainly not like human behaviour, with electroshocks pulsating through their veins.
They are not telling human stories, but work like creatures from outer space, following theír own laws and rituals, extra-terrestrials not so much from science-fiction, but from a sort of Spielbergian imagination. I don´t know how they procreate, their way of moving doesn´t suggest any way of having sex with each other, but one fancies that there must exist some action of that kind. Anyway, their actions cause heavy perspiration, and one wonders how dancers remember their split up movement sequences which are so contrary to their general movements as classical dancers.
One watches them with gasping admiration. In a way they seemed to me like the nightly spirits which come to life in a deserted place – a bit like in the f airy-doll shop of the “Puppenfee” or “Boutique fantasque” – but here rather in a laboratory of modern aerospace research. And from that perspective, the “Black Breath” seems to originate from the air-pollution of our today world, with the dancers working in one of our technological studios, with the females Elisa Badenes and Mariya Batman, resembling hostesses, while the six males represent sweating engineers, and Alexander Zaitsev the exorcising chief of the technical crew. They perform their duties mechanically, with perfect timing and never lessening energy, but in spite of their sweating and quivering bodies they seemed strangely dehumanized.
After which it is back to normal balletic pastures in Clug´s “Ssss…”, its enigmatic title perhaps meaning ´don´t disturb, please keep quite´. Performed to some Chopin Nocturnes, played by the pianist (in my performance by David Diamon) on stage, it reminds one inevitably of Robbins ´”Concert”, but without Robbins´s parodistic suggestions. It rather resembles Robbins`s “In the Night”, with its three couples of Anna Osadcenko and William Moore, Oihane Herrero and Arman Zazyan, Hyo-Jung Kang and Roman Novitzky cultivating their foils and foibles on what looks like a blue ice reflection. Yet there is no suggestion of ice-skating, but they rather perform ballroom steps (one might even discover some tango combinations), all very softly presented, subdued rather than ostentatiously exhibited – dances of some friends in the night, before dissipating into various directions for their individual pursuits. It is chamber-dance, elegantly performed by well behaving and courteous adults and its only blame is that Chopin´s cuddling melodies, electronically blown up, compete against the noises of urban traffic.
And so on to Mauro Bigonzetti´s uproarious “Il Concerto”, performed to Stefano Bollani´s noisy score, which sounds like Nino Rota having gone to Hollywood. Bigonetti is a choreographer of all trades, who here has decided to enter Bob Fosse territory, spectacular and showy where diamonds are a man´s best means to seduce women by the score. And he has chosen some of the most appetizing and glittering ladies to show off their individual virtues, headed by the company`s prima Alicia Amatriain and the erotically simmering Katja Wuensche leading the flock of thirsty virgins, including Elizabeth Mason, Rachele Buriassi, Miriam Kacerova, Angelina Zuccarini, Amit Morita and Elisa Badenes, appearing properly and sexily made up and dressed by Louis Swandale and Kristopher Millar for a party at one of the Italian movie moguls. Nor is there any lack of Latin lovers amongst them, maybe at Berlusconi s villa, with the beefy and sexy boys recruited from the city´s body-building studios like Roman Novicky, Alexander Jones, Damiano Pettenella, Arman Zazyan, Daniel Camargo, Brent Parolin, Matteo Crockard-Villa and Robert Robinson. And there is Friedemann Vogel, Stuttgart´s super-star, a sort of Joker, who, dressed in nothing but a shiney bathing trunk, explodes like a sexy rocket, while innocently displaying his charms. It´s all great fun, and its fun spreads to the auditorium where the visitors need all their education not to storm the stage to participate in the frolics.