UCSD ArtPower - Compañia Nacional de Danza 2 - Without Words, Duende, and Gnawa - Dance by Duato by Krista Nielsen 5.5.9
The music was traditional, Debussy from early 1900s of flute, viola, harp, and string orchestra, setting a sweet, romantic, classical tone to the evening. Dancers, from a single performer to possibly 15 or 16, moved across the stage throughout the performance, formulating shapes, emotions, and telling stories with their bodies. Neutrally dressed and at times, seemingly almost nude, the dancers translated the instrumentation into ballet-like beauty juxtaposed by humorous, quirky formations. En pointe shifted to flexed feet, fluidity to odd yet interesting patterns of bodies rolling, sliding, tip-toeing, quick then slow into meaningful positions.
Occasional snaps and claps broke the silence between the music and the dancers, whose arms and legs entwined into angles, lines, and shapes. The female dancers held strange empty smiles as they wrapped around the men's bare chests; innocent yet in control. At times the male dancers moved liked animals, deers in an open clearing, huffing quietly as their limbs lowered softly, strongly to the ground. Some waited with their backs to the audience then turning to join the formations, while others silently left the stage to either side or behind billowy black drapes with projections of black and white photos, stills of the positions on stage. As the strings crescendoed into the auditorium, exaggerated lights intensified the drama of the dancer's bodies; hard shadows fell large across the stage, faces hidden and limbs exposed.
Walking away from the performance, illustrations and sculptures formed by the lights on the dancers within the music remained in my mind. Hands and feet as brushes, strokes from left to right, building atop another, paintings throughout the night.