Feature: Ballett Frankfurt 2 01

Friday 7 April 2006

Ballett Frankfurt
‘Eidos Telos’ Sadler’s Wells 8 – 10 Nov. 01.

William Forsythe’s ‘Eidos: Telos’ leaves audiences overwhelmed with its extraordinary sense of mystery, madness and chilling beauty. This work literally stirs your whole physical being.

Above all, it is the middle section which casts such a spell. Here, the tension unforgiving and any detached way of viewing theatre is demolished as Forsythe’s combination of text, design and performance conjures up a frighteningly eerie atmosphere.

Part two begins with an emotional and desperate monologue by the exceptional performer, Dana Caspersen. She looks inhuman as she screams, convolutes, undulates on the floor like a possessed animal. Utterly spellbinding, she’ll seize even the coldest heart.

Later, the rest of the company enters, waltzing through her space with grace and fluidity. But with Forsythe’s ability to take us places we’ve never been before, this light, breezy dance turns dark as the dancers rant about their violent and psychotic fantasies.

The first and third parts are more like Forsythe as we know him: ensembles where each dancer moves through the space as if on their own journey. But, then, just when you think nothing will equal the power of the middle section, the piece erupts in a final turmoil that allows no room for relief.
Luciana Brett
Perplexing Viewing
As the curtain fell following each part of William Forsythe’s ‘Eidos:Telos’ (1995) I sat in pensive silence allowing his densely packed theatrical dance to penetrate my thoughts. Forsythe bombards and challenges us with his ‘ballets’ rooted in authenticity and intelligence. This authenticity lies in the collaborative nature of his recent works. This is immediately made apparent in the opening of ‘Eidos: Telos’ which involves a sextet of dancers performing organically-tempered improvisational movement in practice wear and socks. The stage is also populated by the musicians – three trombonists and a violinist – whose frequently discordant music sends individual dancers into a frenzy.

The raw, repulsive climax within Part II is as startling as it is captivating. A bare-chested soloist crawls on all fours; her spine tautly curved, then arched. Her vulgarity and vulnerability are as unnerving as the thunderous music performed amidst an industrial wasteland of suspended video monitors, taut wires and vast projections of twisted shapes. She eventually finds solace as her chilling monologue softens to a breathy recital of poetic verse. There is also some relief in a warped waltz performed by the ensemble dressed in flowing satin skirts and loose shirts. The brightly-coloured dancers spin hypnotically like magnetised whirling dervishes who attract and repel simultaneously.

Forsythe rarely allows us to grow complacent – he punctuates this waltz with fractuered spoken vignettes which range from the mundane to the comic to the obscene. Unrivalled in his ways of deconstruction and reconstruction of the familiar, Forsythe engages even as he perplexes.
Melanie Knowles
How can movements be initiated without music?

By a dancer clapping his hands, tapping his foot.

By a dancer breathing, coughing or sighing.

By a dancer dragging her neighbor across the floor.

By dancers plucking two magnified strings of an gigantic musical instrument that stretches across stage.

No matter how movements are initiated William Forsythe’s dancers move with absolute accuracy.

When songs are sung or trombones blown off-stage, the pulsation within the group is slightly disrupted. Yet the dancers, ‘listening’ to each other, attempt to create music out of their own movement. And they succeed.

What will the dance be like when music and text try to dominate it? A drop of saliva, as the dancers’ swear and bargain, is enough to make the audience uneasy.

The trombones’ screams finally force the dancers to scatter apart.

Besides stimulating our senses during the performance, Forsythe leaves us with many intriguing thoughts to bring to our next ‘dance’.
Jane Wong
Infinity In the Making
It is a heavy burden for the ballet tradition to perform an effective incision through the dark mass of chaos. ‘Eidos: Telos’ (1995), however, is far from a traditional piece. What begins as multiple deconstructions of steps from Balanchine’s ‘Apollo’ is aggressively dislocated by dissonant brass punches. Aural winds dust the stage clean of the aging language of classical footsteps to make room for the conflict of life and death that follows. The dancers’ kinetic alchemy awakens the phantoms of Persephone and the keepers of the Underworld to an audiovisual necromancy.

In this cosmic arena, taut wires are raised to the level of leading dancer Dana Caspersen’s swirling skirt. Their oscillations suggest the bouncing between opposites — light and dark, flying and falling, all key elements of William Forsythe’s architecture of disappearance. Through these pulsating vectors, Caspersen’s monologue reverberates in the infinity of Hades’s stillness. Blows from the onstage trombonists impact on her body with the severity of wind hitting a dusted carpet. These ice-cold fanfares are the frightening irony of a ‘Dies-Irae’ played among the dead.

‘Eidos’ is infinite: As Caspersen’s spastic dance transforms her body into a torch burning with a cold fire, the curtain falls — bringing this struggle is to an end but not to a conclusion.
Evan Theods

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