Greek Stage Review - 8/6/2015
A "performance for the difficult times" could very well be an alternative title for the spectacle the Hellenic Dance Comany (HDC) presented to a remarkably large audience on two consecutive nights (7-8/6).A company that exists for more than 12 years now and has made careful steps in its effort to gain a distinctive stylistic identity and a fully professional profile, and keep the right distance from the organisation it is affiliated with, the National School of Dance.
Martha Graham's Panorama, Pascal Rioult's Wien, Tono Lacky's No more fairy tales? and Akram Khan's Vertical Road comprised the program that the virtuoso company of young dancers showed, earning itself recognition and a wild round of applause in the end of the show.
This was the first appearance of the company of the National School of Dance at the Athens Festival, a noted ommission on the part pf the organisers during the previous years.
Forming, presenting a company of many dancers and preserving its high status of performance, is a heroic deed that deserves respect; such deeds furthermore function on a psychological level because they create sense of hope and pride -especially- to a hurt, almost humiliated country. Hope and pride for its offspring... Therefore, despite its "gloomy" point of departure for comprising the program, which was the crisis and its effects on people, the Company and its people actually pointed the other direction, that of life, energy, strength and the fight to survive.
And what about the program?
Martha's Panorama is an excellent example of historical expressionism-at-its-best, with all its fiery and angry angularity together with the mass power of 36 females in red dresses stomping off around the stage. Pascal Rioult, in the dramatic tradition and irony of a Christopher Bruce, cunningly deconstructed an ambiguous symbol of "old Europe", the waltz, bringing to the surface its darker possibilities and qualities; a form of popular entertainment thus became a powerful symbol of political commentary with a simultaneous look at gender issues. Tono Lacky's "popism" titled No more fairy tales? used a tempestuous athleticism to comment on issues of manipulation, everyday life chaos and media propaganda, things he knows well coming from the former Eastern Belt. His criticism has the distant smell of '70s political fear, but his composition and assembling of material is catching up with today's European culture and art and it is really this combination or clashing of times that gives his work a sense of hidden anger and bitterness -overcome by humor. Akram Khan's Vertical Road of 2010, was another step towards fusion of cultures and dance styles, and yet it was not "just" that. With the strongly rhythmic and mesmerising score by Nitin Sawhney, "Vertical Road" became a spiritual journey in the meanders of movement, conscience, freedom and the spiritual"leader"(s). I would reluctantly and rather metaphorically call it an idealised, "occult piece" much in the way of the metaphysical paintings of Everett Milais.
And the dancers?
And there were good, very good dancers. Very young, inspired and with a sense of common, shared identity (which is big deal for a company), who danced their hearts out and gave it all on stage.
Wrap it up:
Surely a company (and performance) to watch.