Friday, 1st April '05
House Of Flying... Rubber Chickens?
Err. Yes, that's right. You heard me.
Heh. This is one review for which I am SERIOUSLY at a loss for words. But in the tradition of this rather verbose rambly blog, I'll try anyway. So I'll begin with an observation what probably isn't worth the webspace it's printed on - Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal should have kept its original name. Their new, abbreiviated moniker of [bjm_danse] seems somewhat spartan in comparison.
And now that I've had a little warm-up, I'm STILL unable to describe the bemusing yet thoroughly enjoyable experience that was tonight's double bill of "Mapa" and "The Stolen Show". Well, the stoppering of my verbal diarrheoa was more the effect of the latter than the former. Of course, Mapa was excellently performed - I've come to expect no less of this amazing dance company since Tzo dragged me to whatever dingy theatre it was to watch them in 2001. And well done to her too, because since then I've more or less resolved to watch every show Montreal Ballet show my pathetic allowance can afford.
But where was I? Mapa? Right. Like I said, well performed and the company once again showed the energy, intensity and lightness of step that I remembered from the first time. I couldn't help but feel that the choreography was lacking in some ways... it was small and certain parts (especially what Liang called the "Black Pas de Deux") tended to almost boring repetition. While the technique was flawless and the dancers' (oops, thats interpretive artists to us mere mortals) strength and control was jaw-dropping, this cranky reviewer sensed a general vibe of uninspired-ness. It was text-book perfect, yet there seemed no vision or direction, and I was reduced to just admiring the drool-worthy pirouettes, a la second splits and eye candy that was Youri de Wilde (that's him holding the 4th chicken from the left, next to bald dude).
But OH, the second act, The Stolen Show, was crazy... I don't mean crazy good, because one could clearly tell the technique showing-off was all done in the first act. This act was about interpretation and there was certainly something the choreographer wanted to say that did NOT involve much regular dancing. Without giving the game away, this act - it was actually only an excerpt, and the full Stolen Show" was really three acts long - it was so delightfully absurd, so enthrallingly eccentric, I would have paid the full price to see this part alone.
It began with something like an insight to a typical rehearsal day... dancers lounging around in khakis, chatting away in some English-French hybrid... eventually a transition to an intensely physical double-male pas de duex, a relaxed skit-dance of a male-female couple arguing about choreography ("No I said here! Non, ici! Here! Ici!"... "One two... cinq six...") and then THE MAGICIAN appeared.
If I had to describe the Magician, I'd call him a rough equivalent of Sim Pern Yiau as Adrain Lim in Such Sweet Sorrow. Slapstick as slapstick could be, but thigh-slappingly, eye-wateringly hilarious. He strutted around the stage in over the top Magician poses, and in response to that, twenty rubber chickens were hurled out at him from the wings, in the fashion of over-ripe tomatos. At that point I nearly fell off my chair laughing. He reacted by throttling a chicken and slapping in around in some frenetic attempt to make it disappear or something (all the while yelling away in Spanish).
At other appropriate junctures (spoilers ahead):
The mandatoy slutty, leather-clad assistants made their appearance in the form of yet another rib-tickling, immaculately-timed pas de duex involving two buxomy blondes fighting over a single shoe.
This was quickly followed up by an impressive and simply cool hip-hop jazz-ballet fusion piece (interrupted by the emergence of an eager tourist - all scripted, of course),
A conga line of rubber chickens being made to dance by the interpretive artists (my favourite bit, incidentally - see first picture), which then proceeded to FLY around the stage, and become involved in various other stunts
A half-naked man flanked by yet more voluptuous assistants and a bear (yes, a BEAR).
Now you do see why I have to stop the review here and admit defeat? I just CANNOT describe the whole insane, endearing, warped, higgley-piggley mess. Yes, I loved every moment of it and if you're in Singapore (or you'll be in Thailand or China soon), you HAVE to catch it. It's really the only way to go.
In a final last-ditch attempt to make something out of this gibberish of an entry, I'd just leave you with a passing remark that the synopsis pegged this whole affair as a discourse on the "conundrum of art vs. entertainment" and "whether the Stolen Show is presented as a question or a comment, a tribute or a parody, is left to the viewer to decide". Yet, I didn't feel like I needed to decide anything - open-ended felt like the way it was meant to be.
*All images available from [bjm_danse] official website.
[well, the pictures aren't going to take themselves!]