Puzzle-master subverts dance as we know it
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Puzzle-master subverts dance as we know it

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL

William Forsythe's <i>A Quiet Evening of Dance<i>.

William Forsythe's A Quiet Evening of Dance.Credit:Bill Cooper

DANCE ★★½
A QUIET EVENING OF DANCE
William Forsythe, State Theatre, until October 20

Performing work choreographed by William Forsythe must feel like putting together 10 different jigsaw puzzles at once. There are times when it feels like trying to solve a puzzle just by watching his work, as we wait until the moment when a key piece slots into place to offer a glimmer of understanding and synergy.

It would do this program a disservice to simply dismiss it as a deconstruction of classical ballet. Forsythe himself articulates his work as part of the ballet lineage, and cites the formalism, structure, and lines of ballet as key drivers of his work.

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<i>Seventeen/TwentyOne<i>.

Seventeen/TwentyOne.Credit:Bill Cooper

However, the segments of A Quiet Evening of Dance do not just deconstruct known shapes and rhythms, they also subvert their co-ordination and spatiality. We see movements redefined by other parts of the body: the pathways of the torso performed by the legs, or the directions of the feet expressed through the head.

Act One has four short sections, though none of them exist as an entirely discrete offering. Certain motifs thread through all of them - and some even find expression in Act Two’s Seventeen/Twenty One.

Familiar movements come from unexpected body parts.

Familiar movements come from unexpected body parts.Credit:Bill Cooper

In this last work, the dancers play with the formality of Jean-Philippe Rameau's 18th century score, pressing through movements to the point of witty absurdity, and forcing our attention to the crafting of lines in space.

And it is delivered with stunning virtuosity by each of the seven dancers on-stage.

<i>A Quiet Evening of Dance<i>.

A Quiet Evening of Dance.Credit:Bill Cooper

Forsythe’s work may not appeal to everyone; it is complex and sometimes unforgiving in its insistent challenging of movement. But for a lesson in the possibilities of the human form to create shapes and illuminate space, there can be no better example.

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