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  •  REVIEW: BALLET PRELJOCAJ: EMPTY MOVES
    (PARTS I AND II)

    GaŽlle Chappaz, Fabrizio Clemente, Yurie Tsugawa and Julien Thibault in Ballet Preljocaj: Empty moves <br>(parts I and II)
    Photo by Julieta Cervantes
    GaŽlle Chappaz, Fabrizio Clemente, Yurie Tsugawa and Julien Thibault

    Caged movers

    Ballet Preljocaj dances Empty Moves at BAM

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    Merce Cunningham and John Cage collaborated extensively while both were alive. Cunningham, and Cage, believed strongly in trusting randomness and chance to create dance, and music. Cunningham often set phrases on dancers and then rearranged them arbitrarily, sometimes at the last minute. So why does Angelin Preljocaj, who has choreographed exciting and vibrant ballets that stretch the edges of staging, design and movement, return to Cage for music and Cunningham for apparent inspiration in Empty Moves?

      
    BALLET PRELJOCAJ: EMPTY MOVES
    (PARTS I AND II)
    Choreography by: Angelin Preljocaj.
    Dancers: GaŽlle Chappaz, Fabrizio Clemente, Julien Thibault and Yurie Tsugawa.
     SCHEDULE
    Brooklyn Academy of Music
    October 27, 29 and 30, 2010

    In a 65-minute piece that could be sufficiently experienced in any 20 of those minutes, four dancers casually, sometimes lethargically, fold and flop each other on a bare stage with a grid of tape on the floor, while a recording of John Cage speaking "Empty Words" rambles along. There seem to be several ways that Empty Moves could have been interesting, but Preljocaj chooses none of them. By using an historic recording, any chance of inspiration from a live vocal performance disappears. By using affectless dancers in phrasing that feels very much like Cunningham, but removing any angular sharpness and almost all of the briskness of Cunningham technique, Empty Moves achieves listlessness more than anything else. Even a gradual buildup and a short, perky dancing section in the middle of the piece are allowed to fall away to nothing, unremarked, in order to return to the same phrases that the piece begins with, as if creating a dance palindrome is inherently interesting.


      
    The notion of an alienating effect — of the disintegration of movement and a new manner of choreographic phrasing — takes precedence over the meaning and the essence of movement. — Angelin Preljocaj  

      
    If there is any saving grace in the performance at BAM, it is the dancers themselves, who are attractive and obviously capable. Quite likely part of the frustration of watching this performance comes from knowing, by seeing snippets of movement here and there, that these dancers could let loose at any moment and generate kinetic excitement. Instead, they stay almost continually in what feels very much like rehearsal mode, conserving energy for some actual performance. If this is the point, and it seems to be given the casual clothing the dancers wear, then it is a point that inspires more questions than excitement. Unfortunately, without excitement or inspiration, questions seem pointless.

    NOVEMBER 8, 2010
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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    (parts I and II)"