We’re watching six Prague Chamber Ballet dancers glide across the shiny studio floor. From our row of seats, guest co-choreographer Uri Ivgi nods in tiny movements to the electronic beat; his partner choreographer Johan Greben jots a quick note in the large spiral notebook on his lap.
Slowly, carefully, the dancers begin to form a human pyramid. A bare foot perches on another dancer’s leg; a man and woman somehow hang in mid-air with their linked elbows; another dancer reaches the top and stretches her fingertips towards the ceiling.
“The dancers have to really concentrate on this,” Prague Chamber Ballet artistic director Hana Turecková whispers to us as we watch this Mar 27 rehearsal of Beat. “If someone loses focus it can result in serious injuries — very fast.”
Choreographers Ivgi&Greben (Uri Ivgi, Israel; Johan Greben, The Netherlands) began collaborating in 2003. Since then they’ve created works for dance companies throughout the world, including Santa Says Cut It! for The National Theatre Ballet, 2008. Three words they use to describe Beat: “Ritualistic, dynamic, ecstatic.”
Now the dancers carefully deconstruct themselves and begin the full run-through of the 60-minute piece from the beginning. Meanwhile, Mrs Turecková explains as the choreographers concentrate on the dancers, “The ideas in Beat are very clear. It’s about the importance of ritual, the need to be connected to our roots, and our ultimate isolation.” Suddenly the dancers begin a kind of humorous “roll-call,” with words and even a little singing (in English).
Then they stretch out flat in a circle on the floor, making quick shapes like a human kaleidoscope, in patterns too beautiful to hold in your hands.Now Uri Ivgi’s palm stretches across his cheek; he looks thoughtful as he scrutinizes the dancers. Johan Greben is suddenly writing, writing. Composer Thomas Parkinson sits off on the sidelines at his laptop, his fingers tented over his nose. You can almost see the music developing in his mind.
“The two choreographers and the composer are creating the work together, from now right up until the premiere April 16,” Mrs Turecková explains. “They really are collaborating.”
The dancers have come to the penultimate scene, again constructing the pyramid. So far, Mrs Turecková says, the plan is for the piece to end with a solo dancer in shiny black leotard and feathers to “lose her thin, fragile body” in a “really touching” movement.
But there’s still time for more ideas to sprout before the April 16 premiere. What will the final shape of Beat be? You’ll have to watch it yourself to find out. — oo
– Mary Matz, editor of Opus Osm
The Prague Chamber Ballet premieres Beat April 16 at 8 pm at the New Stage (Nová Scéna).
Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička