Danish Dance Theatre
Terrace Theater, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
March 1, 2013
by George Jackson
copyright 2013 by George Jackson
Some in the audience remembered 30 plus years ago when dance companies were feeling the need to go pop. The curtain would be open already when you sat down. The cast could be seen on stage limbering up or lolling about. Came the time to perform, dancers not yet involved would stand in the wings, sit on stools in back or squat out of the way to watch. Often the stage was unadorned or lit like an impromptu, after hours den. The music, most likely, was canned. Between numbers there wasn’t an actual break but a casually choreographed intermission. One director even had the company change costumes, undressing in full view. Last night, Tim Rushton – choreographer of “Love Songs” and in artistic charge of the second of the five dance companies that are part of Kennedy Center’s Nordic Cool 2013 Festival – brought back that time for us oldsters. Youngsters among the public might have found the Danish Dance Theatre’s offering fresh. In fact, members of all age groups responded with lots of applause at the end. I, though, from the start couldn’t help having expectations.
During the “intermission”, the dancers discreetly change costumes. In the songs that follow this semi-pause, the movement material is given somewhat more thorough development. Among the company’s dozen dancers, it is the women who are remarkably supple. Rushton showed this trait of theirs repeatedly but didn’t explore it further.
Nice as it was to see the dancers’ pre-performance warm-ups (Bejart’s company used to do this enticingly), to witness the on-stage watchers who frame the action (which became significant at the premiere of Robbins’ neoclassical “The Goldberg Variations”), to experience the intermission as part of the performance (earlier examples were Merce Cunningham’s subtly choreographed break at BAM and Peter Breuer’s uncoy costume change interval in Salzburg) and to learn that popular music can support inventive choreography (see Forsythe’s very dark, 1983 “Love Songs”, not to mention examples by Balanchine, Taylor, Tharp et al.), Rushton should have dared more with HIS “Love Songs”.
*Note: At home in Denmark the company uses live musicians, which undoubtedly makes a visual difference too. Nevertheless, the quality of singer Caroline Henderson’s recording was top notch.
Photos by Bjarne Ørsted.