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  • Chris O'Rourke

Dublin Dance Festival 2021: Triple Bill: Martens/Mandafounis /Sciarroni

Triple Bill: Period Piece by JanMartens. Lyon Opera Ballet. Photo Charlène Bergeat


It often comes as a shock when first discovering portion sizes. Discovering how little we need for sustenance. Reduced portions being a theme that runs through much of DDF2021, which features several bitesized works. As in Triple Bill: Martens/Mandafounis /Sciarroni by Lyon Opera Ballet, offering a trio of dance tapas to cater for a variety of tastes. In which the classical and the contemporary collude as much as collide, making for some interesting juxtapositions.

Featuring two tasters from 30 Solos, 30 Dancers, the contrast between soloists, choreographers, and dances couldn't be more pronounced. Period Piece, choreographed by Jan Martens, sees dancer Kristina Benz playing inside and outside the conventions of ballet, dancing in response to Górecki's Three Dances. Initially twirling and swirling with strict formality, encompassing the entirety of stage, protocols are dispensed with as movement settles into stiffness. Practically rooted to the spot, Bentz dances from the shoulders up with mechanical efficiency, arms signalling like slow moving semaphore. Face and voice both vehicles for expression as Bentz moves while standing still. Movement rarely flowing organically, but appearing pre-programmed, the body a mechanised instrument, highlighting the artificiality of its movements; the dancer a choreographic puppet. Yet one that oozes personality, best seen in a series wrist flick moments culminating in an energetic finish. But which personality do we encounter; dancer or choreographer?

If Period Piece is defined by constraint, Komm und birr dien Antlitz (Come and hide you face) inspired by words and music by Robert Schumann and choreographed by Ioannis Mandafounis, sees Yan Leiva flowing organically from pulse to impulse, shaping form rather than being shaped or restricted by it. Whether responding to music, or dancing in silence, Leiva hints at narrative moments through face and eyes, or momentary contortions of expressiveness, the darkened stage and swinging light at the finish evoking the dancer who is no longer there, yet whose presence and expressiveness is keenly felt.

Serving as something of a main course, The Collection, choreographed by Alessandro Sciarroni, subtitled Piece for sixteen dancers, takes Tyrollean folk dancing, and traditional costumes, and gives both a modern twist. Initially resembling an exploratory exercise, with its heavy reliance on eye contact, mirroring and synchronicity, it soon resembles a military drill as hands, hips, thighs and feet are engaged in rhythmic slapping. If the camera had previously served to frame and inform, placing us in unusual intimacy or impossible distance, here it self consciously sets the tone, utilising doubled and dissolving shots, or frequently switching to an unnatural, privileged, and often alienating overhead angle where the whole resembles a synchronised swimming team, with movement and structure far more expressive from ground level. The introduction of looped electronic music further alienates, feeling like another frame, or additional commentary, like an overbearing soundtrack not integral to the performance. A breathy accordion proves far more effective, bringing the sequence back to earth as it closes.

With Triple Bill: Martens/Mandafounis /Sciarroni dance is both presented and interrogated from three different perspectives, exploring the relationship between classical and contemporary, the body and form. With contrast and compare proving inevitable, Triple Bill... proves to be a thought provoking and enlightening experience.

Triple Bill: Martens/Mandafounis /Sciarroni by Lyon Opera Ballet, is available online as part of Dublin Dance Festival 2021.

For tickets or more information, visit Dublin Dance Festival 2021.

Dublin Dance Festival 2021 runs May 18 to May 30.


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