Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Leine Roebana (Dutch Dance Company)

LEINE ROEBANA, a brilliant offering by DanceCleveland

LEINE ROEBANA, which was recently presented at the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square by DanceCleveland, has a unique style that defies a traditional description. The Dutch company gets its creativity from not being bound by the traditional dance language of Loie Fuller and Isadora Duncan, the conceivers of contemporary/modern dance. Its dance style is not contemporary nor modern. It does not tell stories or have themes. It is purely a company which interprets music through bodily movement.

This Dutch dance form has no long history. It is a movement that developed following World War II. It is not bound by tradition. It repelled German dance concepts because of the strong hatred of all things German after the war and was little influenced by the long flourishing movement in the United States. It struck out on its own.

The results? It is totally kinesic, based on bodies forming connections with each other. It is organic in nature. Maybe it should be dubbed, Organic Dance. The choreographers, like composers, take the music, the sounds, the moods and create visual energy and synchrony. They “dissect the body into its constituent parts, put it back together and invite it to dance.”

The dancers sometimes move in unity, though almost never touching each other. There are no lifts, no carries, just melding of bodies together in space. The short pieces are blended together by the next set of dancers moving into the preceding piece and then being left on the stage as the original dancers leave. There is little time for audience applause between segments as the sections blend together. There are no mid-performance curtain calls as there are no “lead” dancers, no stars, no specialty numbers. The flow is organic, with music, light or sound transitions.

The dance is symbolic of the Dutch people. In contrast to the US, in which much of the arts is considered high brow and is attended by only the intellectual elite, “In the Netherlands, participation in the arts and culture is considered a basic right of citizens along with housing, education and health care. The Dutch government, through its culture funds and agencies, channels this support to ensure that everyone in the Netherlands, no matter their age, ethnicity or education can enjoy this right.” Quite a difference from this country, where federal funds are almost invisible and the only local government support is through taxing smokers and arts organizations are left to beg for corporate money.

Several program specifics stood out. The lighting was so incorporated into the dance that the spots became additional performers. The simple setting, with a large panel of woven cloth hung mid-center of the back wall, changed colors to enhance the musical moods. The music, specifically composed for the company, and its execution by two violists and a pianist, was encompassing. A counter tenor added a surreal atmosphere to the proceedings. The special sound effects added to the emotional level and tied to the modernism of the company by adding the dimension of the mediated world.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: BRAVO! Dance Cleveland plays a vital role in exposing Clevelanders to unique dance experiences. Thanks to Pamela Young, the Executive Director of DanceCleveland, for bringing LEINE ROEBANA to the area. Also praise to her for insisting the live musicians accompany the group as most of this company’s performances use recorded music.