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Dance Works Rotterdam / André Gingras : Anatomica #1 & Anatomica #3

February 16, 2012

Photograph by Chris Nash

Reviewed February 15, 2012

NAC Theatre, Ottawa

In the same way that poets through the centuries have adopted the voice of prophet and manipulated language to provide their readers with some frame of reference, so André Gingras as choreographer manipulates the perfect human form of the dancer to reflect sexuality in the new millennium. What does sexuality look like on us? How does it motivate us? Satisfy us? Hurt us? Who better than poets – or choreographers – to show us the way. The great Thinkers.

The show begins before the dance. Six men and three women, dressed in varying degrees of grey, stand stage front in a row, twisting and gyrating their bodies in erotically suggestive movement, enticing the audience into what will be a kind of prophetic statement of human sexuality a la André Gingras.

Before the dance proper opens, eight of the dancers leave the stage to a lone male, who acts out with an exaggerated movement and a certain joie de vivre, the battle between desire and restraint, the yes-no of sexual longing, taking us to the humorous side of love and lust as he shows us what the body looks like in the throes of unrequited amour.

Canadian-born choreographer André Gingras, who created the Anatomica triptych series, has been presenting his vision of dance in the Netherlands since 1999. Artistic director of Dance Works Rotterdam since March 2010, Gingras is taking the nearly 40-year-old company into a new artistic phase with Anatomica and other contemporary works that put dance in a social context, and bring moral dilemmas into the theatre with energetic and raw physicality.

Dance Works Rotterdam’s small troupe of strong and flexible dancers provides a perfect platform for Gingras to showcase his innovative vision and fascination with the body as object.

This evening’s performance features two of Gingras’s Anatomica triptych, #1 and #3. Gingras says the danger, beauty and consequences of the body on display inspired these works.

Jürgen De Blonde, a.k.a. Köhn, a thirty-something Belgian musician who likes to play with electronic improvisation, computer multitracking and innovative sounds and language, provides the distinct accompaniment to Anatomica #1, a work Gingras premiered in Rotterdam last spring.

In this work, sometimes the dancers pulse like a synchronous engine, moving in unity like some large sexual beast. Other times the dance is suspended, while a couple role on the floor in an endless embrace, for example, to De Blonde’s techno slo-mo version of Elvis’s Can’t Help Falling in Love.

Then there are the computer sex scenes, the power, the lack of control, a humorous peek into the desperation of anonymous individuals attempting to connect without the civilities of face-to-face confrontation. Perform for the screen. Fulfill my needs. I don’t really care about you.

The second work, Anatomica #3, is an older work of Gingras’s first performed five years ago and produced by Rambert Dance Company. It’s light years behind the newer, more dynamic Anatomica #1.

The same nine dancers hearken back to the 1950s and 1960s, dressed in look-alike beatnik garb – black pants and turtlenecks – and an Andy Warhol mop of white hair and large glasses. As the dancers are different heights, and three of the nine are women, it’s a creepy but funny image, particularly as they perform like silly little wind-up toys.

As the performers disrobe, underneath they are clad in 1960s bellbottoms and flowery tops. Four of them put transparent bags over their heads and become pliable puppets in the hands of their partners. The dancers examine their body parts: framing their eyes with fingers and thumbs, squeezing their thighs or buttocks, cinching in their waistlines, cupping and pinching their chests and breasts. And they run up a large ramp at one side of the stage and leap or fall off onto piles of heaped mattresses.

Lighting is stark, and composer Joseph Hyde provides an eerie repetitive and urgent percussive tone, and sometimes the sound of ticking clocks, all of which adds a sense of foreboding to an experimental work somehow gone wrong.

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From → Contemporary

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