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The São Paulo Dance Company delights at the Oper Köln

When small children play hide ‘n’ seek, they close their eyes and think that they are invisible to others. Then it’s “Kuckuck”, or as the English say, “Peekaboo”, and with that, they are visible again. It’s a game that the dancers of the São Paulo Dance Company paraphrase in their appearance at the Oper am Rhein, in so far as men and women hold hats in front of their faces. The dancers act like toy figures – as a firework of movement discharges in front of the astonished eyes of the Cologne audience. The choreography of “Peekaboo” comes from the native Wuppertaler Marco Goecke, and it is danced by the young troupe from the south of Brazil with high tempo and a precision that takes the breath away. To the music of Benjamin Britten’s early melodic composition “Simple Symphony”, they move curtly and abruptly like insects or mechanical shapes. These bodies appear as if remote controlled, a great ballet with movements given radiance by the freshness of an original style.
In the second piece of the evening, the composition “Gnawa” from Nacho Duato, the Brazilians again conjure a concentrated atmosphere on the stage, even though their props consist of not more than a couple of candle lanterns. Southern Spanish aromas in music and choreography mix up with influences from northern Africa. The luscious light of afternoon saturates the scenes, lending gravity to the gestures. And once again the Company succeeds in its art, developing a production completely without story or metaphor, just from its movement repertoire and the strong stage presence of the dancers. They constantly work to achieve compositional beauty, without falling into the ossified patterns of kitsch. They seem sure of the applause following every scene. It’s always again the group compositions which impress. These are not ornamental arrangements, but ones in which the troupe completely takes over the stage. This gives the moves force, and emphasizes the contrasts between the men and the women within their collective actions.
How strongly the perfection of the classical ballet has been taken up by the Brazilians in Modern Dance can be seen in the choreography “In the middle, somewhat elevated”, which Rudolf Nureyev commissioned from William Forsythe in 1987. One feels transported into a ballet studio where work is being furiously carried out. Here the Dance Company abandons something of its own style, in that they render unabashed homage to virtuosity. Everyone is allowed to show off what they can do, and that is in every case impressively much, although that comes at the price of personal expression. Nonetheless, Hanna Koller has brought an exceptional guest ensemble from São Paulo to the Rhine, which was exactly to the taste of the Cologne audience.
Thomas Linden, Kölner Rundschau, July 11, 2014

...Die brasilianischs Sao Paulo Dance Company gehört zu den ausgewählten Balletten. Es existiert erst seit 2008 und ist bereits zu einem wichtigen kulturellen Aushängeschild Brasiliens geworden. Es importiert europäische Choreografien und gibt sie auf seiner Tournee durch europäische Städte dem Kontinent formvollendet wieder zurück. ...
... Nach der Pause dann Forsythe. Das Stück wischt alle Fragen nach bekannt oder alt oder neu vom Tisch. Bei "In the Middle, somewhat elevated" sind das Können und die Virtuosität der Companie nicht mehr Selbstzweck. Die Perfektion steht im Dienst einer Balletsprache, die ganz heutig ist. Der Titel - in der Mitte, leicht erhöht - spielt auf den Spitzentanz an und auf das Paar goldene Kirschen, das von der Mitte der Bühne herunterhängt. Das Stück ironisiert das kühle Formvollendete, indem es dieses auf die Spitze treibt und indem es ganz Form ist, weist es über diese hinaus. ...
Margit Oberhammer, Dolomiten, July 17, 2014

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