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Gauthier Dance // Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart

March 12, 2017

 

eric gauthier

Cantata dancers

Ballet 101, Now and Now, Pacopepepluto, Streams, Cantata

 

Reviewed March 11, 2017

NAC Southam Hall, Ottawa

There’s nothing quite like Cantata, a 40-minute choreography by leading contemporary dance creator Mauro Bigonzetti of Rome. Principal choreographer for the Italian dance company Aterballetto, Bigonzetti has staged works for top dance companies in North and South America and Europe.

 

His Cantata, staged by Gauthier Dance Saturday night, is superbly vibrant, sensual and alive with colour and purpose. The dancers are earthy and wild. There’s a catchy ferocity about the work that doesn’t allow you to let go.

 

And incredibly unique to the work is the fact that four gypsy musicians from the south of Italy – all women – grace the stage throughout the dance, mingling with the emotion and the vitality of their fellow performers.

 

The music of the Gruppo Musicale Assurd, which includes a hand-button accordion, castanets and a frame drum, is infused with the traditions of southern Italian tarantellas and wild pizzica folk dances.

 

Gauthier, who introduced the program before the performance, referred to the final number, Cantata, as a story of an Italian village and “the dessert” of the evening.

 

It’s not typical for an artistic director to speak of what’s to come before presenting his dances, but Gauthier explained, “We are not an ordinary dance company.”

 

In fact, Gauthier first performed on the National Arts Centre stage nearly 30 years ago, when he was 10. It was only after he became “tired of dying” in Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet and even The Nutcracker, that he made it his mission to give his audiences “the sunny side of dance,” by building a bridge between the stage and the audience with his own company in Germany.

 

And so, Saturday night was “a dream come true” for the Montreal-born dancer whose company in Stuttgart is now celebrating its 10th anniversary.

 

Four other works were on the program, before the dessert of Cantata, including Gauthier’s own choreography, Ballet 101 or Ballet 102 as he now prefers to call it since he added an additional surprise move at the end. The eight-minute work humorously employs a ballerina and her partner to give a crash course in the 100 “positions” of classical ballet. I’ve seen this 2006 work of Gauthier’s performed before by a solo male dancer and it’s always engaging with its wit and charm.

 

The three other works on the program were by completely different European choreographers: Stockholm’s Johan Inger, Madrid’s Alejandro Cerrudo and Crete’s Andonis Foniadakis. Widely varied, each with its own nugget of gold, the standout was Cerrudo’s Pacopepepluto — a hidden gem indeed.

 

Imagine, if you will, a naked man dancing like no one is watching. Okay, well not quite naked – he’s wearing a flesh-colored dance belt. But we can easily imagine him naked, his rippling muscles glistening with possibility as they catch the light just so, the strains of Dean Martin’s Memories are Made of This informing his own private uninhibited fantasy. It allows the audience to indulge in their own private fantasies, that this perfect specimen of a man is singing and dancing for you and you alone. That’s “Paco.” And then “Pepe” performs his secretive moves to Martin’s In the Chapel in the Moonlight. And lastly, “Pluto” spoils us with his wanton frolic to That’s Amore. Fun and beloved by Saturday’s audience, Pacopepepluto was undoubtedly Gauthier’s version of Fifty Shades of Grey.

 

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From → Contemporary

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