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Bill T.

Jones/Arnie Zane

Bill T. Jones’ dance
without boundaries
Ravel: Landscape or Portrait? – chor. Bill T.
Jones, mus. Maurice Ravel; Story/ – chor. Bill
T. Jones, mus. Franz Schubert
Cremona (Italy), Teatro Ponchielli

A few days before the announcement of
Trisha Brown’s demise, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie
Zane Company presented a beautiful pro-
gramme in Cremona. In the oeuvre of this com-
pany which is now over thirty years old we
find an America that no longer exists. We are
at a loss to recognise that America today.
Soft bodies, a movement that is continually
in release and never in muscular tension. Per-
fectly attuned presences, capable of opening
up spaces and favouring connections so as to
meld bodies without pretence and to dialogue
with the music on an equal footing. A dance
without boundaries, full of humanity, that looks
as if it was created purposely to understand
the reasons of others. This is also what co-
existing in a contemporary dance group is all
about: finding one’s own time in colleague’s
In today’s America, all muscles and shriek-
ing, this seems like old-fashioned dancing. To
discuss it, as well as to go and see it, is an act
of resistance against the barbarity of the present.
The general title of the programme was Play
& Play: An Evening of Movement and Music;
it was split into two distinct – and perhaps
complementary – parts. The first, Ravel: Land-
scape or Portrait?, is a 2017 revival to music Tatiana Melnik, Gergely Leblanc – Hungarian National Ballet: “Don Quixote”,
by Ravel (String Quartet in F major, 1904) c. Mikhail Messerer (ph. Csibi/Pályi)
played live by the Quartetto Noûs from the
stalls, beneath the stage. On stage, framed by
simple lines, we see the weight, order and force Hungarian National Ballet
of the dancers. They dance through the four
movements with calm harmony and subtle anxi-
ety, on edge. The landscape is made up of por-
traits: there are no gaps along the line continually DonQ Hungarian-style
formed by the dancers, static poses alternat-
ing with absolutely perfect trios and quintets. Don Quixote – chor. Mikhail Messerer after
The second part, Story/ from 2013, is to Marius Petipa et al., mus. Ludwig Minkus
music by Franz Schubert (String Quartet No. et al.
14 in D minor, known as Death and the Maiden), Budapest, Hungarian State Opera
again played live by the Quartetto Noûs, though
this time on stage and in close proximity to Is there anyone who is currently more suc-
the dancers. Here the picture is more synchro- cessful in staging historic ballets than
nised and the movement has the eloquence of Mikhail Messerer? While Alexei Ratmansky
thought. The dynamics are light and deep at and Yuri Burlaka also seek to revive chore-
the same time, open to individual reckoning, ography from the past, what can be an aca-
not imposed by a written movement that banks demic exercise is something rather more for
up or sets apart, but by a flow that is open Messerer. Scion of one of Russia’s most
and always welcoming. distinguished ballet dynasties, he (68) re-
Stefano Tomassini vives productions that he himself has known;
in his case, what that means are the iconic
stagings of Soviet Russia which have, in
many cases since glasnost and perestroika,
been replaced with (in his eyes) inferior ver-
Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Company: sions. Thus, he has brought back to the per-
“Ravel” (ph. F. Zovadelli) forming repertoire Laurencia, Flames of