Lyon Opera Ballet
The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Thursday, April 8, 2004
copyright 2004 by George Jackson
published 12 April 2004
Loukos' Lyon Opera Ballet is into movement cleverness rather than choreography.
Not long ago it brought us Maguy Marin's insufferable Cendrillon,
this time Philippe Decoufle's ever so cute Tricodex.
The piece is a series of skits which shows life evolving. Topically, the
progression is from marine creatures to a human Adam and Eve. Technically,
in movement terms, it is from Alwin Nikolai to Elizabeth Streb. There
are some byways.
In the beginning, after the curtain went up, darkness covered the stage
and then, behold, light—ingenious lighting that made a bed of sea
anemones not only fluoresce but also helped them undulate so convincingly
that the cast seemed to consist not of dancers but specimens. Decoufle
gradually gathered an astonishing number of species into his arc—frogmen
with flippers instead of ballet slippers, a spider with pointe shoes on
her hands as well as feet, octopuses, hen, camel, unicorns plus others
from a book of beasts by the artist and naturalist Luigi Serafini. Translating
Serafini's imaginary encyclopedia onto the stage was made possible by
25 dancers, about 75 movement tricks (my estimate), and 150 seductive
yet dehumanizing costumes.
Tricodex adds up to quite a show, melding Disney and contemporary
European movement theater. The latter doesn't condone intermissions. If
there had been one, I might have forgotten to go back to my seat and thereby
missed seeing how Decoufle's menagerie grew to include cartoon people
and cartoon dancing. One detour on the evolutionary path was that of body
builders—a stage full of prissy, narcissist muscle men lit from
above so that their every flection showed. There were circus ballerinas
suspended on ropes and spinning fast, plus love pairs from the Romantic
ballet with its floating females and their stalwart partners.
Everything in Tricodex was carefully controlled, cautiously distanced
so that one couldn't swoon with the romantics, become aroused by the erotics
or even empathize with Adam and Eve as they groomed themselves and beheld
how almost naked they were. (I think Decoufle did not shown our ancestral
parents eating the tempting apple, but I might have missed that.) The
cast for the performance consisted of trained ballet dancers. Given that
the Lyon repertory requires them to use their skills only as tricks and
not to dance, and that not one of them can be identified by name, what
motivates the performers in this company?
Volume 2, Number 13
April 12, 2004
Jean Battey Lewis
Sali Ann Kriegsman
Alexandra Tomalonis (Editor)
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