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Ballets Jazz Montréal in Beverly Hills – Seen and Heard Worldwide




United StatesUnited States Ballets Jazz Montréal’s Dance Me – Music by Leonard Cohen: Andonis Foniadakis, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Ihsan Rustem (choreographers), Ballets Jazz Montréal. The Wallis Annenberg Middle for the Performing Arts, Beverly Hills, 10.5.2024. (JRo)

Ballets Jazz Montréal’s Dance Me © Thierry du Bois

Ideation – Louis Robitaille
Dramaturgy and Stage course – Eric Jean
Music Course – Martin Léon
Units and Props – Pierre-Etienne Locas
Costumes – Philippe Dubuc
Lighting – Cédric Delorme-Bouchard, Simon Beetschen
Sound – Alexis Dumais
Movies – HUB Studio: Gonzalo Soldi, Thomas Payette, Jeremy Fassio

Dancers – Alyssa Allen, Gustavo Barros, Yosmell Calderon Mejias, John Canfield, Tuti Cedeno, Astrid Dangeard, Shanna Irwin, Miu Kato, DaMond LeMonte Garner, Larissa Leung, Austin Lichty, Marcel Mejia, Andrew Mikhaiel

Vocalists – Astrid Dangeard (‘So Lengthy, Marianne’), DaMond LeMonte Garner and Astrid Dangeard (‘Hallelujah’)

Dance Me seduces the attention and, above all, the ear with the music and poetry of Leonard Cohen. Cohen’s recorded music serves because the soundtrack for interpretation by three choreographers – Andonis Foniadakis, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Ihsan Rustem. Cohen authorised of the enterprise and requested that the corporate use songs from his full physique of labor quite than specializing in his biggest hits. On the whole, the interpretations had been soulful, as befits Cohen’s shifting explorations of affection and loss. The night had the aura of dancers and the viewers gathered at a memorial service for a beloved pal.

There have been visible moments of pure Leonard, notably when dancers, wearing grey fits and carrying hats like his signature trilby, walked back and forth. The hat served as a logo of the poet and have become as potent as Charlie Chaplin’s bowler. It jogged my memory of Hans Richter’s Ghosts Earlier than Breakfast, a Dada movie that featured bowler hats flying gracefully by way of the air.

In fourteen sequences danced to Cohen’s recordings, the choreographers grappled with the import of his phrases and music. Two songs had been sung by firm dancers Astrid Dangeard and DaMond LeMonte Garner and featured no motion.

The artists of Ballets Jazz Montréal managed all of the choreographic twists and turns, bringing a lyricism to their dancing that’s typically lacking within the athletically proficient dancers of contemporary dance corporations. However it’s Cohen’s music that elevated the choreography, infusing the dances with which means and goal.

Ballets Jazz Montréal’s Dance Me

To the incomparable ‘Dance Me’, a lady in an outsized white shirt ran on stage and flung herself into the arms of her male companion, the marvelous Andrew Mikhaiel. Completely different ladies, dressed equally, took turns dancing in his arms, and every partnering had an intimacy that managed to convey sensuality with out exaggerated sexuality. The interpretation was pitch excellent.

The ‘Boogie Avenue’ lyrics inform of a singer who, wounded by love, returns to the again alleys of Boogie Avenue. The choreographer (nowhere in this system might I discover attributions for every sequence) opted for a extra literal strategy, however the intertwined and rolling our bodies on the ground expressed greater than was wanted and did a disservice to Cohen’s delicate lyrics.

The pas de deux of ‘Steer Your Method’ featured wisps of tango. A kick of the leg (virtually like an afterthought), a flick of the hand, a swish cock of the top – all added piquancy and complemented the dissonant strings within the music. The pas de deux danced to ‘Suzanne’ was a poignant tribute to like’s abiding energy. The male dancer draped his companion round his neck like a shawl, then turned her chair, then her swing. Gliding onto his legs she turned the masthead of his ship. Imagery matched phrases like a young embrace.

Props, lighting and video projections had been used to nice impact, at all times illuminating and by no means intruding. A dozen or so knee-high cubes, located in the back of the stage in a line, served first as stepping stones, then as mini desks full with typewriters, then as stools. The ‘Tower of Tune’ sequence used the cubes to whimsical impact. Dancers had been stationed on their backs with their torsos and heads invisible, coated by a low display. Every performer lay in between a set of cubes with naked legs pointing upwards. Pairs of limbs frolicked like disembodied Busby Berkeley refrain ladies. Giant pink lips, projected on a display behind the legs, mouthed a couple of bars of the track, finishing the pleasant image.

For eighty minutes, Ballets Jazz Montréal enthralled, calling up the spirit of Leonard Cohen. Nevertheless it was Cohen’s gravelly voice, haunting melodies and wealthy poetry that held me in an embrace.

Jane Rosenberg