Contemporary dance Reviews. Choose from the titles below in this column to display the corresponding review in the right column.
Berichte über zeitgenössischen Tanz. Wählen Sie aus den Titeln unten in dieser Spalte, um den Bericht in der rechten Spalte darzustellen.
Author: Jochen Krölls
"The Children" fades in by presenting a schoolyard full of children to the audience. A woman wearing a pink dress, the protagonist Joe's mother, utters a few sentences that give us an impression of the environment that Joe has been growing up in.
This is not a pure dance production. To get the story across Christian Spuck fills the roles of Joe's mother, and her ex-lover, with actors. They are the only adults, and it is their representation by actors that makes the distinction of the adults. There are other examples of integration of actors; Pina Bausch has taken in Mechthild Großmann in the 1970s, although, mostly not in this genre of story ballet that "The Children" stands for. This dance production is based on the stage play of Edward Bond.
Five video screens at the top left hand side of the stage wall. A woman's face on all screens seems to be supervising the scene. Other than a few rocking horses the scenery only consists of a rocky landscape in the right hand stage corner. During later scenes, a growing number of portraît photographs appear from the stage ceiling. The children wear school uniforms.
Joe's mother perfidiously lures him into setting a house on fire in which her ex-lover lives with his family. She first claims that he promise doing something for her without knowing what. She blackmails him with his bad conscience of having wasted the money from which he was supposed to buy cigarettes. After all Joe sets the house on fire - in which one boy dies. Joe and his gang flee. The children's long journey ends up in death. It is a journey through a whole range of emotions.
Why convert a stage play into a dance production? Dance offers a different range of expressive methods. Rather than just telling the story we are offered a view into emotions via different channels of perception. While Joe's mother obtrusively talks at Joe, the corps de ballet's (e)motions drag the audience into Joe's world of sensations, using a set of gestures, facial expressions, bizarre, unique movements.
Other than that, "The Children"'s dance language is a beautiful customized classical one. As a consequence the Aalto audience, with a few exceptions, does not experience many surprises in that respect. As for the sound, it might well do so because Martin Donner's sound scenery is probably nontypical for Aalto productions, though not uncommon in the world of contemporary dance: alternating slender string arrangements, aggressive rock music adaptations as well as distorted or pitch shifted sound and noise, complemented by some film music style quotations.
As a protagonist of pure contemporary art in any area I would have loved to see a more courageous use of contemporary means. However, Martin Puttke, head of the Aalto dance division, assumably has to keep in view the rather conservative expectations of the typical Aalto dance audience. On the scale between the extreme poles of classical and strictly contemporary dance Puttke and Spuck act as a counterbalance to institutions like Pact Zollverein or tanzhausNRW who, amongst many others (also see other echos on artKrölls) represent this region's contemporary dance. Aalto's merit with this production is to offer to its audience a gentle introduction to contemporary dance, an acclimatisation in a way.
Moreover, the temptation to make use of the miraculous and charming capabilities of classical dancers must be overwhelming. This became obvious when Puttke and Spuck, together with the creative team, introduced their new production to an interested audience a week ago. They demonstrate professionalism in the integration of actors, rather than troubling dancers with verbal performances - I have seen too many embarassing counter-examples.
Christian Spuck's style is evident, a clear mark of quality. His merit is the seamless organic integration of the various crafts, dance, theatre, sound, costumes and stage design that have to be just like this.