September 21, 2023


Make Some Fun

‘Dance Me’ with Leonard Cohen | evaluation

7 min read

Phrases by Bengi-Sue Sirin. Carried out at Sadler’s Wells on 7 Feb.

We’re so fortunate to have had Leonard Cohen. As human beings, creatures who expertise feelings and passions, few artists evoke extra of our multitudes of emotions.

In case you select one emotion, there’s a Cohen tune to match it. Nervousness, ache, love, grief… like a real poet, he bared all of it. His music, usually thematically darkish, incorporates multiplicities, dancing the road between easy and sluggish melodies and intensely significant lyrics.

Cohen form of appears like gravel, but one way or the other additionally born with the present of a golden voice; he’s the depth of a burning violin, a canine in warmth, however on the identical time he’s tea and oranges that come all the way in which from China; his religion was sturdy however he wanted proof, and he tried, in his method, to be free; he has his very personal breath of brandy and dying; he’s what occurs to the guts, to chuckle and cry and cry and chuckle about all of it once more; sincerely L. Cohen.

Canada – particularly his birthplace of Montreal – is rightfully very proud, therefore the nation’s newest homage from Montreal’s main firm, Ballets Jazz Montreal. Ballets Jazz Montreal has simply celebrated its 50 12 months firm anniversary, having been based in 1972 by Genevieve Salbaing (simply after Cohen launched the wonderful, Well-known Blue Raincoat-wielding album Songs of Love and Hate). Ballets Jazz Montreal started making ready Dance Me with Cohen’s approval earlier than his dying in 2016, beneath the inventive route of Louis Robitaille. The premise could be very a lot tribute to Cohen, by means of the lens of three choreographers: Adonis Foniadakis, Ihsan Rustem and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. It premiered in 2017 and has proven at numerous worldwide venues, however that is its first go to to London.

Arriving at Sadler’s Wells on opening night time, I sense that this viewers has lengthy been anticipating Dance Me. I embrace myself on this – I’ve been a Leonard Cohen fan since I first ever ‘Felt Issues’ as a young person… You might spot some lyrical references sprinkled all through this piece, and I make no apologies for it. There’s a buzz within the air, a mixture of followers young and old, of first-time dance-goers and seasoned attendees. It’s a testomony – Cohen speaks to so many individuals, brings all of them collectively. As I take my seat, I really feel in secure fingers, for what higher inventive medium than dance to attract feeling from music, particularly when that music’s soil is so fertile, a thousand kisses deep?

And so we start. Homage is instantly evident, for the dancer strolling onstage is Leonard-esque in silhouette, black fedora and turtleneck as well. Early within the present is considered one of my favorite Cohen songs, Lover Lover Lover, choreographed by Ihsan Rustem. It opens with a male dancer embodying the myriad tones inside Cohen’s voice: pressing, craving, in swirls. 5 extra equally outfitted and impassioned males be a part of him. I really feel that I’m seeing what I think about of this passionate Leonard in technicolour, a sextet of passionate, romantic males, all embodying the necessity of the tune, ribs naked, coronary heart thumping beneath. The piece makes virtually sole use of unison, a stable alternative for such an announcement of a tune. Lover Lover Lover confirmed Cohen’s passionate facet actually.

The subsequent piece, once more by Rustem, takes a equally literal angle. Dance Me to the Finish of Love, the present’s eponymous startpoint, opens with its crooningly acquainted “Laaaaa-la’s”, and one other Leonard-like man (Andrew Mikhaiel) takes centre stage, in black after all. A girl joins him, to be lifted like an olive department, with mushy mild bounce and plenty of wide-legged kicks. As the primary verse slides into the second, she leaves, changed by a brand new girl. They duet in a lot the identical type, with lifts that painting Mikhaiel/Cohen as having all the facility, but being gently charming. This sample continues; a brand new girl for a brand new verse, till a person comes as a substitute. The male-male duet is my favorite; extra unctuous and melted, arduous to inform the place one ends and the opposite begins.

Dance Me to the Finish of Love is on Cohen’s album Varied Positions, one thing I really feel Rustem’s choreography takes relatively actually. I prefer it, however discover it barely apparent. It may have been attention-grabbing to painting the well-known supply of inspiration for the tune and its ‘burning violins,’ the horrifying juxtaposition of the Nazi’s forcing string quartets to play in addition to the dying chambers of their fellow prisoners. That darkish level of historical past discovering its method right into a tune exhibits us, Cohen is far more than a womaniser.

In a later piece, Rustam higher demonstrates the complete and extremely gratifying extent of his choreographic vary. It’s to a different of my favorite Cohen tunes, the cheeky and charming Tower of Music. Written from a vantage level of age-acquired wit (as proven in its brilliantly acerbic opening traces: “Properly, my pals are gone and my hair is gray/ And I ache within the locations the place I used to play”), Tower begs to be interpreted with tongue in cheek.

It begins with a lady strolling throughout a line of what seems like white chair bins in time with the beat. They mild up at every step, revealing themselves as televisions on seats. Two heads poke down beneath, cheekily coming from nowhere. Then a canon show of legs. At this level, we’re at Tower’s post-verse piano tinkle, and picture in the event you can a unison leg sequence of pointed limbs in direct sync with the keys, in ironic sync with Cohen’s severe tone. It’s fabulous – all of us chuckle, delighted that this facet of Cohen is paid its due. Extra comedian highlights embrace a Rocky Horror Image Present cum Rolling Stones tongue and lips brand backdrop mouthing the ‘Doo-dum-dum-dum’ of the backing singers. Different reviewers have rightly in contrast Rustem’s piece to Busby Berkeley. That is simply the form of choreography I like, a tinge of humour to attract one of the best out of the dancers.

Picture by Paolo Guerzoni.

I need to point out one other of Rustem’s choreographies, to Cohen’s stunning Suzanne. In distinction with the opposite items of his I’ve talked about, he makes use of solely two dancers for the entire tune. They’re BJM Principal Yosmell Calderon Mejias and Tuti Cedeno, and so they have one of the best dancer chemistry I’ve seen in a very long time. Suzanne begins with Mejias holding Cedeno safe whereas she ronde jambes her pointed leg in sluggish, measured winds. Now and again he transfers her to a different a part of his physique, and by no means as soon as does she contact the ground. It’s mesmerising; liquid molten clean, oozing maple syrup… There isn’t a pressure in Mejias’ physique, and no distrust from Cedeno’s, solely a river-like duet of platonic love, help and solicitude.

For me, Rustem’s choreography stands out because the strongest amongst the items of Dance Me. It’s a problem to choreograph to the comparatively shorter music lengths of in style songs, for six minutes just isn’t loads of time to ascertain an concept of kinds, and to complement it past merely ‘dance routine’ stage. I discovered a proportion of the present to not fairly accomplish what Tower of Music and Suzanne managed, maybe leaning too closely into simply representing the sound of the music. The dances that transcended this had additional depth and their very own distinct flavour.

I need to point out a chunk by Andonis Foniadakis that additionally had this excellent edge, his interpretation of the dramatic and really 80s First We Take Manhattan. Its Pet Store Boys-esque synth sound calls for aggressive, space-consuming choreography to match, and Foniadakis ensures that with this ensemble piece. It’s comprised of marvellous travelling sequences with leaps that would sure one first from Manhattan, then to Berlin. The dancers run throughout the stage in what resembles the traces of streets, and thrust ahead in a way evocative of the enduring stances in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. Manhattan as a tune gives loads of extremity, and I’m glad that this upbeat, placing facet of Cohen has had its second.

And so it goes! Dance Me got here to an finish, 80 minutes of homage to Leonard Cohen, the various sides of the person rotated and proven by the extremely expert Ballets Jazz Montreal. Not each piece was successful, however those who have been have embedded themselves onto my consciousness, perpetually to be related to stated tune. There was positively one thing for everybody. I can consider no higher method to attract this evaluation to a detailed than to return to his lyrics; the motive for the piece; the ambition of Louis Robitaille’s preliminary inventive imaginative and prescient again in 2016; and what I feel, finally, BJM achieved: ‘Present me slowly what I solely know the boundaries of/ Dance me to the tip of affection.’

Leonard Cohen Playlist – working order of the present & to your private enjoyment!

  1. Right here It Is
  2. Lover Lover Lover
  3. Dance Me to the Finish of Love
  4. Boogie Road
  5. Steer Your Means
  6. All people Is aware of
  7. Tower of Music
  8. Marianne
  9. 1000 Kisses Deep
  10. Suzanne
  11. Well-known Blue Raincoat
  12. Nevermind
  13. First We Take Manhattan
  14. It Appeared the Higher Means
  15. Hallelujah
  16. Treaty
  17. The Future (encore tune)

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