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Swiss dance and

archive fever
A retro effect and vintage (if not indeed
‘archive’) logics characterised the Swiss
Dance Days which this year took place in
Geneva. This biennial platform is supposed
to show the choreographic vitality of an
entire country but instead risks being only
a “geopolitical” map of the dominant
Francophone area of Switzerland.
This year’s president of the jury, Claude
Ratzé, was unable to perform any magic.
Nor can he even take the merit for the
opening night –featuring the début of Cindy
van Acker’s extraordinary work, Elementen
III-Blazing Wreck, for dancers from the
Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève. The
work demonstrates the further progress
being made this Belgian choreographer who
lives in Geneva and began her classical train-
ing at the company’s school in 1990. Pre- Ruth Childs: “Pastime”, c. Lucinda Childs (ph. G. Batardon)
sented at the magnificent Bâtiment des
Forces Motrices, it is part of a cycle in-
spired by Euclidean mathematical postu- (1963), Carnation (1964), Museum Piece as if, by listening to these stories, the past
lates: incredibly open to movement, but ac- (1965). However, the more attentive spec- could always be present and readily avail-
cording to an idea of the body (individual, tators got the impression they were watch- able.
dancing, political) that is also sonorous. ing a lab experiment, one incapable of de- Instead, Jósef Trefeli and Gábor Varga’s
With a certain degree of arrogance, an- livering the “freshness” promised in the research on folk dances in Creature is ex-
other member of the jury, Spanish chore- programme. tremely philological and would have needed
ographer/performer La Ribot, received carte Of a completely different nature was a refreshing in order to avoid appearing mere
blanche for her show Another Distinguée; similar performance by Nicole Seiler, The entertainment, old-fashioned and somewhat
The performance offered was an embarrass- Wanderers Peace, on the idea that through comical.
ment, on the brink of regression: in a fu- story-telling “dance as memory becomes It is perhaps fitting to credit Lea Moro
tile manner, La Ribot assembled perform- an archive”. The work focuses on former with having come interestingly close to the
ance modes that are anything but original, Hamburg Ballet dancer Beatrice Cordua sense and compositional logic of Gustav
making what the programme purported to (aka Trixie, born in 1943) and on her ca- Mahler in her (b)reaching stillness. Here
be disquieting and opaque, banal and de- reer, starting with her scandalous nudity the notes of the Second Symphony are not
cidedly antiquated. in John Neumeier’s The Rite of Spring simply reproduced by the moving bodies;
What turned out to be very interesting (1972). The public experience a radical rather, these react to the music by creat-
was Ruth Childs’ revival of solos created timeline break as the elderly Cordua, in ing shapes in space.
by her superstar aunt, Lucinda: Pastime movement, shares her stories with them: The real and most useful merit of this
edition of the Swiss Dance Days were the
Salons d’artistes in which eight choreog-
Beatrice Cordua: “The Wanderers Peace” c. Nicole Seiler (ph. C. Vitte) raphers had an opportunity to present
themselves and their work and future
projects to the programmers present.
Stefano Tomassini

With this article, and another on the re-
views page, BALLET2000 welcomes new
contributor Stefano Tomassini who is
a well-known contemporary dance scholar,
research fellow on performing arts at the
Iuav University of Venice and teaches thea-
tre studies at the University of Italian
Switzerland. He boasts a rich experience
in dance research in the USA (the Archives
of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Columbia
University, etc.). For a number of years
he collaborated on the publications of the
dance sector of the Venice Biennale. He
is the author of various books – on
Salvatore Viganò, Aurel Milloss, Ted
Shawn – and of numerous essays and
dance critique articles.

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