Feature: Compagnia Nacional de Danza

Friday 7 April 2006

Compania Nacional de Danza
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, March 25-29
Reviewed by Francisco Javier Orjales-Mourente

Nacho Duato’s reputation as a master of musicality precedes him. However, after an exhilarating start, his company’s evening at Sadler’s Wells was dominated by an opaque neo-classicism laced with unclear personal statements.

The opening dance, Txalaparta, is a feast for the senses. See, hear, breathe. That is all you need to do to appreciate it.

The txalaparta is a traditional percussion instrument made of wood from the Basque country in northern Spain. Duato has drawn on its rhythms to make a work that not only beats of its own accord but pulsates with the innermost rhythmical core. Furthermore, Al-Chalabi’s overpowering set design dictates a breathing rhythm of its own. When its two giant seagull-like wings are lifted or lowered, the air in the whole theatre moves. You can’t help but breathe in the breeze and be overawed by its magnificent gracefulness.

By comparison, Arcangelo, a musical exploration of Corelli’s Concerti Grossi, is cold and lacks intimacy. Its interminable series of duets are, on their own, supremely danced pieces of choreography. However, the movement neither says anything about the music nor does it add up to a coherent whole.

White Darkness lacks distance. After the performance, Duato said that this piece is based on a girl whose life is ruined by drugs. For the audience in the theatre this is not clear. And why would he choose to alienate us by leaving out such crucial information about the work’s central image —- the sand. After what he said, is the sand meant to be cocaine? Perhaps Duato knows. His audience doesn’t.

In Txalaparta, music and dance can be enjoyed together for the sheer pleasure of it. Yet, to follow this with two such unclear choreographies points to a lack of distance on the part of Duato. Regardless of how musical he may be, Duato is an inarticulate choreographer.

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