Tuesday evening I had a rare treat here in Bern, a dance performance that really moved me and took me on a journey, restoring my faith in dance.
Credit due to the performers of the evening, German based dance ensemble Kidd Pivot directed by internationally acclaimed choreographer, Crystal Pite.
Although currently based in Frankfurt, Germany, Pite originally hails from Vancouver, Canada. A brief background on the choreographer:
- Canadian born
- Performed with Ballet British Columbia & Ballet Frankfurt under legendary choreographer William Forsyth
- First choreographic work debuted 1990 with Ballet British Columbia
- Choreographed for NDT, Cullberg Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet & National Ballet of Canada amongst others
- Associate choreographer of Nederlands Dans Theater
- Formed Kidd Pivot in 2002
- Company are currently in residency at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm in Frankfurt
- Won numerous awards including The Isadora Award (2005) & The Jacobs Pillow Dance Award (2011)
The work I saw the company perform was Pite’s critically acclaimed creation ‘Dark Matters’, a 120 minute assault on the senses choreographed in 2009.
Set in two halves, Act One see’s the audience taken on a journey with a narrative story, similar to my mind of Geppetto and Pinocchio‘s fairy tale. As this puppet grows into a completed piece of work, it becomes violent, manipulating the man at the table making him, dancer Peter Chu who was absolutely outstanding, resist and fight back against this ‘Dark Matter’ that is taking over his life.
There was a running snippet of text that kept creeping in throughout the show, the phrase “This temporary world of blood & dust, exists only to dissolve” particularly stuck in my mind.
The puppet is orchestrated by a group of dancers in full black over-all’s, although almost invisible to the audience they are definitely there, and reminded me of the film ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ with Matt Damon & Emily Blunt. Another interesting connection here, New York based Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet who also feature in the film, have previously been choreographed on by Pite. In the film, there is a scene where the main character walks into a room he’s not supposed to, time has been frozen and rather military looking fate deciders dressed similarly to the dancers are altering the people in the rooms fate, setting them off on different collusion courses thus changing their life path.I found the idea of ‘fate changers’ close to the role the dancers with the puppet play in the first act.
This ‘Dark Matter’ that Pite tackles, is a place in space, a place that takes up around 96% of our observable universe. A force that pulls you in, throws you around and to the sane mind has no reasonable sense or structure to it. After the show there was a talk, Pite spoke of the “Dark Matter” symbolising to her this place we as dancers have, a block, something obscuring, thrashing us around and hindering what you are striving for in the studio as a performer or choreographer.
I’ve never quite heard of such a description of the infamous creative block, or indeed how much dance can drive you mad at times, but if ever I heard the definition this was a pretty spot on one.
I asked Pite if this “Dark Matter” she tried to tackle for her creation had dissipated as the piece developed, and the answer was “No, it’s still there!”
For me the piece serves as a vehicle for understanding the turbulent elements to being an artist, the psychotic place the lost so often find themselves in, knowing how to deal with these elements, and to ultimately accept and live with them.
Act two was pure sublime dance. Totally away from the narrative more theatrical thread of the first act with the dramatic crashing down of the set, the audience really had a treat in store of raw, passionate dance.
The fluid and strong movements from the dancers is exceedingly impressive, tightly executed & articulate to a degree of finesse.
A stunning solo from dancer Jermaine Maurice Spivey (Maryland Born, with company since 2008), took the audience’s breath away. The way he moved was just mesmerizing to watch. The absence of music at times and the minimalistic percussion was apt, one could not help but be drawn in to what the dancers where doing and anything else would just take over. It seemed any other elements would take away from this hypnotizing sight that befell our eyes. Music featured in the piece comes from a score by Owen Belton, a 18 year-long collaborator of Pite’s and for me hit the right note.
The show closed with a totally stunning duet from dancers Peter Chu and Sandra Marin Garcia, seeming to come back to the Gipetto & Pinocchio story with the more narrative phrase’s. The incredible way in which these dancers moved, set to a stunning piece of classical music came together to give a simply sublime feeling of happiness watching the spectacle unfold. All is well in the world of dance again.
Goosebumps where on my arms by the end and a thoroughly deserving standing ovation from the crowd followed as the dancers took their curtain call.
Sadly the company disband at the end of this season for a years break but they will return the following year – something everyone in the arts world will be eagerly anticipating no doubt.
*Catch the company performing in Switzerland as part of The Steps Dance Festival, for tickets visit: http://www.steps.ch/en/Home
Special thank’s to Bonnie at Kidd Pivot for her assistance
more information on Crystal’s work at http://kiddpivot.org/
Photography by Eric Beachesne, Dean Buscher, Chris Randle & Joris Janbos.