Gigs, dance, art

September 3rd, 2009: Josef Nadj – etc, etc / les corbeaux

@la villette

Familiar people on stage, a show I had been excited about for a while, but that wasn’t the best part.

I’ve been seeing Josef Nadj‘s show for a long time now, and I’d been eager to see this etc, etc performance ever since I heard about it and its featuring Sophie Agnel, Roger Turner and Phil Minton. That looked so exciting I was bound to be let down, and I was. The music was nice, but unsurprisingly lacked something when it came to interactions. I like Sophie Agnel enough for that not to be a problem, but even though I loved her performance it was still a bit disappointing because the dance felt too separated. I liked what Roger Turner was doing most of the time, but after a while I felt it sounded more like a solo performance of his, which are not my favorites. I’m not a fan of Phil Minton to begin with, but somehow he seemed more connected to the dance. Which is the main reason why I was not sold of the whole. I quickly figured out the meeting I eagerly anticipated would either not take place or be beyond my ability to grasp it. So I tried to go along and pick out the individual performances. The dance was too obvious for my taste, but that’s definitely because of my familiarity with Josef Nadj’s work over the years. Those shuffling steps were familiar, as were those automaton moves, and even though there was another dancer mirroring his moves, it was far too predictable in my opinion. Unlike last year, those familiar elements didn’t go further. Either I whiffed completely, or maybe all of them were leaving too much space for the others, relying on familiar bases but this time I didn’t see the dancers go further. And the musicians’ performance were also too familiar. All were good enough, but I expected something more, and it just didn’t happen. Or I didn’t get it, which is more likely. Sophie Agnel’s performance was great on it own though, and is a big part of why that show was worth it for me.

But the second part more than made up for this disappointment. Of course Akosh Szelevényi is already a familiar element of Nadj’s world, and there’s something going on there that’s probably hard to reach for others. Here the dance and music were probably both satisfying on their own, but meshed together well enough that I don’t really know. Neither illustrative of the other, just fitting well. And the dance was just great. A lot of familiar elements again, and at first even the use of ink was reminiscent of previous shows, but there were telling differences, like those feathers Nadj strapped behind his ankles, a more direct departure from the usual black suit. It did help me get into the show, for personal reasons I’m not going into here, but this Raven element may have changed my vision about his immersion into a barrel of ink. His coming out of it ink-black in a literal sense meant much less to me than the dripping. And the show reached it’s apex for me when his moved were both familiar and hampered by the slipping on those puddles. There’s usually a lot of control in what he does, and this was both about this and about putting it in jeopardy. I just loved that part, suddenly it made my familiarity with his work pay off, because there are few things I like more than seeing an artist I know and like take a step further. Not tentative yet obviously taking a chance. Which calls to mind a fall/recovery that’s to this day my favorite dance moment ever.


September 5, 2009 - Posted by | Dance, Music | , , , , ,

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