da:ns Festival 2017: Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project (Review)

Murder Ballades, Photo Credit Laurent Philippe
Photo Credit: Laurent Philippe

Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project presented at Esplanade’s da:ns Festival was a riveting performance of perfection, and left audiences in awe throughout the 80 minute show.

The show opened with a sequence of three duets from the documentary Dancer’s world: Martha Graham. Performed on a bare stage, the no-frills presentation of the dance brought the audience’s attention to the detail and shape of the dancers’ bodies, emphasizing the sharp lines of the dancers’ arms as they spiralled gracefully through the space. Each pair was mesmerizing to watch as they came together, yet always barely touching – characteristic of Graham’s choreography the tension between the dancers. The opening act for the evening was indeed a memorable tribute to Martha Graham, sophisticated in every way and setting the stage and tone for the rest of the evening.

Hearts and arrows Photo Credit Rose Eichenbaum
Photo Credit: Rose Eichenbaum

Following a slight pause after the opening act was Janie Taylor and David Adrian’s performance of Closer, set to Philip Glass’s Mad Rush. The choreography told a beautiful narrative of a couple’s twists and turns in a relationship shown through the entanglement of the two bodies. The pair was phenomenal to watch, especially Taylor who was seamless in her movement as she spins and leaps into the air. Closer had an intensity and sensuality that had the audience on the edge of their seat the whole sixteen minutes.

Murder Ballades, Photo Laurent Philippe 1
Photo Credit: Laurent Philippe

But the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly Hearts and Arrows, featuring new, original choreography from Benjamin Millepied. Commissioned by Van Cleef & Arpels, Millepied’s abstract choreography paid careful attention to the dance’s composition and architectural detail, giving a perfect visual rendition of the beauty in light’s reflection through diamonds. The sleek and stunning costume design by Janie Taylor reflected the thousands of cuts in diamonds, and added a layer of shine and lustre to the electrifying dance sequence by the 8 dancers. Roderick Murray’s clever use of the lighting rig in the backdrop further illuminated the costumes of the dancers on stage in different light beams and intensities, illustrating how diamonds shine in different intensities under different light settings. The unique and original commissioned work definitely won the hearts of the audiences in the house, as the outstanding performance closed to a standing ovation that evening.

Hearts and arrows 2 Photo Credit Rose Eichenbaum
Photo Credit: Rose Eichenbaum

Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project is undoubtedly representative of Esplanade’s 12th da:ns festival, inspiring imagination and pushing boundaries in the future of dance and choreography.

Photos courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Performance attended 23/10/17

By Sarah Tang for Bakchormeeboy

 

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