Friday, March 2, 2012

Grand Théậtre de Genève Dances Emanuel Gat

There's a profound honesty to Emanuel Gat's movement, although it's not without its particularities or embellishments. His recent work, Preludes & Fugues (to selections from Bach's Well Tempered Klavier), as danced by Ballet du Grand Théậtre de Genève (GTG) at the Joyce through March 4, has more filigree and shading than his previous works I've seen, which have bowled me over.

Photo: Vincent Lepresle
The GTG dancers' core language is ballet, and Gat's choreography is not derived from ballet. But impressively, they don't carry any stiffness or rote artifice from ballet into Gat's style. In his previous works I've seen, he and doppelganger Roy Assaf have been the best interpreters of the choreographer's sinous style, but there was always a rougher quality, perhaps in part because Gat came from athletics before he found dance. 

Here, the elegant (although still muscular) dancers have smoothed out any edges and spun Gat's already fluid phrases into even more refined silk. The control that ballet training has given them is used in other ways, such as in the final section, when a woman moves ever-so-slowly and seamlessly that we have time to savor all the shapes she makes with her arms and body—the same tools we have.

Gat doesn't chain his movement sections to the stops/starts of the different Bach selections he has chosen. There are moments of silence—never overly long—but they have the effect of making us pay closer attention to the music's relationship to the dance, and to appreciate it more while it's playing.

His movement sometimes evokes martial arts, a poised coil and strike, plentiful deep and grounded lunges. Energy ripples through the limbs and body, which feels so liberating when released in full expression. The dancers touch very little, and sometimes seem to threaten one another with ultra-close proximity and agression. It's all engrossing.

Gat designed the costumes, varying clothing in shades of black, and the lighting, effective when it drops suddenly to the dimmest moonlight. The dancers aren't pretending to be other people, and when they're onstage and not dancing, they pay attention to those who are. There's a heightened tension produced from all—performers and viewers—being focused on the movement and stage dynamics, a feeling of being present and collectively creating a moment in time.

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