Contemporary dance Reviews. Choose from the titles below in this column to display the corresponding review in the right column.

Berichte über zeitgenössischen Tanz. Wählen Sie aus den Titeln unten in dieser Spalte, um den Bericht in der rechten Spalte darzustellen.

Piotr Tomczyk & Shaked Dagan: R.S.V.P.

ZKM Young Choreographers Session Jan 2014

Aslizadyan/Oliveira: Two 4 One

Montpellier Dance Festival 2007

Christian Spuck: The Children

vera | sander | art | connect TRESPASSING

Laureates: Africa/Indian Ocean

Eun Me Ahn: Please Hold My Hands

Lara Martelli: Solo mit Sahne

Akram Khan: Kaash

Junge Choreographen Folkwangschule 2003

Theater der Klänge: Modul|a|t|o|r|

Wim Vandekeybus: Blush



Christian Spuck, The Children

Aalto Ballett Theater, Essen/Germany 10 April 2004

Author: Jochen Krölls

Team Play

"The Children" fades in by presenting a schoolyard full of children to the audience. A woman wearing a pink dress, the protagonist Joe's mother, utters a few sentences that give us an impression of the environment that Joe has been growing up in.

This is not a pure dance production. To get the story across Christian Spuck fills the roles of Joe's mother, and her ex-lover, with actors. They are the only adults, and it is their rep­re­sen­ta­tion by actors that makes the dis­tinc­tion of the adults. There are other examples of in­te­gra­tion of actors; Pina Bausch has taken in Mecht­hild Groß­mann in the 1970s, although, mostly not in this genre of story ballet that "The Children" stands for. This dance production is based on the stage play of Edward Bond.

Five video screens at the top left hand side of the stage wall. A woman's face on all screens seems to be su­per­vis­ing the scene. Other than a few rocking horses the scenery only consists of a rocky landscape in the right hand stage corner. During later scenes, a growing number of portraît photographs appear from the stage ceiling. The children wear school uniforms.

Joe's mother per­fidiously lures him into setting a house on fire in which her ex-lover lives with his family. She first claims that he promise doing some­thing for her without knowing what. She black­mails him with his bad conscience of having wasted the money from which he was supposed to buy cigarettes. After all Joe sets the house on fire - in which one boy dies. Joe and his gang flee. The children's long journey ends up in death. It is a journey through a whole range of emotions.

Why convert a stage play into a dance production? Dance offers a different range of expressive methods. Rather than just telling the story we are offered a view into emotions via different channels of perception. While Joe's mother obtrusively talks at Joe, the corps de ballet's (e)motions drag the audience into Joe's world of sensations, using a set of gestures, facial expressions, bizarre, unique movements.

Other than that, "The Children"'s dance language is a beautiful customized classical one. As a consequence the Aalto audience, with a few exceptions, does not experience many surprises in that respect. As for the sound, it might well do so because Martin Donner's sound scenery is probably nontypical for Aalto productions, though not uncommon in the world of con­tem­po­rar­y dance: alternating slender string arrangements, aggressive rock music adaptations as well as distorted or pitch shifted sound and noise, complemented by some film music style quotations.

As a protagonist of pure contemporary art in any area I would have loved to see a more courageous use of con­tem­po­rar­y means. However, Martin Puttke, head of the Aalto dance division, assumably has to keep in view the rather conservative expectations of the typical Aalto dance audience. On the scale between the extreme poles of classical and strictly con­tem­po­rar­y dance Puttke and Spuck act as a counterbalance to institutions like Pact Zollverein or tanzhausNRW who, amongst many others (also see other echos on artKrölls) represent this region's con­tem­po­rar­y dance. Aalto's merit with this production is to offer to its audience a gentle introduction to con­tem­po­rar­y dance, an acclimatisation in a way.

Moreover, the temptation to make use of the miraculous and charming capabilities of classical dancers must be over­whelming. This became obvious when Puttke and Spuck, together with the creative team, introduced their new production to an interested audience a week ago. They demonstrate pro­fes­sion­al­ism in the integration of actors, rather than troubling dancers with verbal performances - I have seen too many embarassing counter-examples.

Christian Spuck's style is evident, a clear mark of quality. His merit is the seamless organic integration of the various crafts, dance, theatre, sound, costumes and stage design that have to be just like this.

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