Trois Grandes Fugues: Lyon Opera Ballet at Dance Umbrella

Trois Grandes Fugues: The Premise

The premise of Trois Grandes Fugues will pique the interest of “Project Runway” fans. Although created at different times, three master choreographers (Lucinda Childs, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Maguy Marin) all set unique dance pieces to Beethoven’s Die Grosse Fuge, Op. 133. With only the music as set material, the trio of works celebrates the possibilities of dance and physical expression in an entertaining evening.

Also intriguing, commissions for the BalletBoyz ‘Fourteen Days’ show created new “balance-themed” dance works in just 2 weeks.

Trois Grandes Fugues - de Keersmaker - Credit Bernard Stofleth

Photo Credit: Bernard Stofleth.

Lucinda Childs: ‘Grande Fugue’

Childs’ delightful interpretation, the only piece from Trois Grandes Fugues created specifically for the Lyon Opera Ballet dancers, resembles a court dance. The precisely performed sissones and arabesques continue to amuse, as does the seamless transition from pirouettes into promenades. Movement calmly washes across the stage in waves.

The six pairs of dancers elegantly reach towards each other, creating a beautiful series of holds as they lunge forward and glide across stage. The thread of movement carries through direction changes with lifts that rotate and assisted fouetté jumps. The sigh-worthy double pas de deux unfolds, uninterrupted even with many partner changes, showcasing sweeping penchés.

Childs’ formulaic choreography follows the music to a T, reverting back into clear sections. But it’s mesmerizing. I would have been keen for the dance to replay a few more times – or to use Grande Fuge as the ultimate computer screensaver.

Trois Grandes Fugues - Childs - Credit Bernard Stofleth

Photo Credit: Bernard Stofleth.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: ‘Die Grosse Fuge’

De Keersmaker’s simultaneously cool and punchy piece elicits a jazzy Old Hollywood vibe, which mingles with modern gestural phrases. Throughout, dancers strip down from suit coats to button ups and eventually to undershirts, the short changing scenes cleverly incorporated as a break for dancers and the audience.

The corporate dressed dancers whip through turns and perform jaunty jumps before rolling into the floor. Their bodies create swinging arcs as they slowly rise in suspension and accelerate into other moves. They show finesse throughout the long series of catch and recovery.

The unique combination of easy refined movement and punctuated jump tucks harkens to the fight scene dance of “West Side Story,” and the drama builds as they shift on a low level in ultra slow motion. Although altogether a fast-paced dance, the riveting rhythm of dance eddies and flows, like water swirling through a brook.

Trois Grandes Fugues - de Keersmaker - Credit Bernard Stofleth

Photo Credit: Bernard Stofleth.

Maguy Marin: ‘Grosse Fugue’

Audience members nervously titter as they wait in the dark, listening to the opening strains of music. But the lights come up quickly as the melody crescendos and dancers pour out onto the stage.

Marin’s rebellious ‘Grosse Fugue’ reminds me of fighting through a ‘terrible, horrible, no good, very bad’ day. The kind of day where everything is a struggle, nothing gets done, and all you want to do is stamp around and pull your hair out.

Arms hyper extended in front of their bodies, I can practically hear them shouting, “Give me a break!” Their torsos heave as they frantically flit through parallel sissones in all directions, and the chaos continues as they fling their bodies through half-steps, never having time to settle.

The female quartet members often dance separately; even if they move simultaneously, a collective feeling does not translate. Perhaps, they are all stuck within their own personal hell. For the most part, ’Grosse Fugue’ is staged as four related solos, which fatigues the audience.

But as the torrent of movement comes to a close, the quietude is revelatory.

Trois Grandes Fugues - Marin - Credit Bernard Stofleth

Photo Credit: Bernard Stofleth.

London Dance Umbrella

Trois Grandes Fugues, part of London’s Dance Umbrella Festival, is performed by Lyon Opera Ballet. It runs at Sadler’s Wells 19 & 20 October 2017. The Dance Umbrella festival brings international dance into London in a celebration of 21st century choreography. The audience can attend performances, some at traditional theatres and some in outdoor spaces, in addition to workshops and lectures. The Dance Umbrella strives to “entice audiences, nurture artists, innovate practice, and stimulate interest in the power of the body in motion” and runs from 11 – 28 October, 2017.

Performed outdoors on a shipping container at various locations, ‘Origami‘ opened the London Dance Umbrella 2017 Festival.

To stay up to date with Dance Umbrella on social media, follow @DanceUmbrellaUK and check the hashtag #DUFest17 . For dance updates all year round, visit the account of the @Sadlers_Wells venue.

Trois Grandes Fugues - Childs - Credit Bernard Stofleth

Photo Credit: Bernard Stofleth.

Disclosure: Up&AtEm Travel was provided show admission to ‘Trois Grandes Fugues’ for an honest review. To work with me for reviews, guest blogs, social media marketing and more – contact me for a personalised quote.  

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