Ballet de Lorraine – Shaker Loops and Cover – London

Ballet de Lorraine in <I>Cover</I>.<br />© Arno Paul. (Click image for larger version)
Ballet de Lorraine in Cover.
© Arno Paul. (Click image for larger version)

Ballet de Lorraine – Centre Choregraphique National
Shaker Loops, Cover
London, Linbury Studio Theatre
11 March, 2015

Nancy-based Ballet de Lorraine arrives as a bit of an unknown quantity; led by Swedish ex-Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet principal Peter Jacobsson, its work is avowedly experimental, and this UK showcase is a chance to see two recent pieces.

Ballet de Lorraine in <I>Shaker Loops</I>.<br />© Arno Paul. (Click image for larger version)
Ballet de Lorraine in Shaker Loops.
© Arno Paul. (Click image for larger version)

Shaker Loops, created by Adonis Foniadakis last year, is wrought from John Adams’ minimalist score of the same name. The Greek choreographer plugs in to the frenetic flows of the music with movement that makes the dancers look like tumbling leaves in a storm, being thrown around the stage, tilting, sliding, flexing their torsos and drawing your eye with twisting arms. The 18 performers come together in small groupings of twos, threes and fours, creating a tumultuous whirl of limbs, long hair and random slapping – there’s no clear centre, though, which makes the whole seem a rather messy expenditure of large amounts of energy.

Itamar Serussi’s Cover, created this year, presents the men and women of the company all dressed in full-length white gowns, initially serenely standing and observing, doing the odd handstand, and in one case indulging in a lingering man-on-man smooch, as a soundtrack of electro pops and bleeps (plus occasional dog barking) plays. Then, as a recording of Berlioz’s La Symphonie Fantastique kicks in, the dancers pursue various responses to the piece that rarely seem to link up.

Ballet de Lorraine in <I>Cover</I>.<br />© Arno Paul. (Click image for larger version)
Ballet de Lorraine in Cover.
© Arno Paul. (Click image for larger version)

There are the same flailing arms and body flexes as the first work, lots of writhing and jagged limbs, some hip swivels, some bouncing up and down, random cheesy disco moves (‘fixing my hair’, ‘driving my car’ ‘divining for water’ etc) – and one man in red pants walking in super slow-mo round the perimeter of the dance space. All the dancers remain on stage for the majority of the piece, leaving just to exchange gowns for brightly coloured underwear. They work hard, but none really gets a chance to shine; with no clear choreographic through line, they’re left meandering through a morass of empty-feeling gestures and oppressive self-indulgence. At an hour long, Cover is blown well before its end.

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