Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Do clones have souls?

The Atlanta Ballet presented a program consisting of “The Four Seasons,” and “Eden/Eden.”
The Vivaldi- composed “Four Seasons” piece was choreographed by James Kudelka.  Its program is not so original, this is, each season represents the phases of a person’s life, from birth (Spring) to decline and death (Winter).   Kudelka avoided making his work a serious melodrama.  At times, he had his dancers, both male and female, en pointe, holding their arms parallel to the floor, as if they were looking down at the earth from some vantage point in the sky.  His choreography briefly referenced modern street moves, which added a bit of humor.  The piece, while not particularly challenging for the viewer, as was last year’s “Rite of Spring,” was enjoyable and masterfully danced.  The live orchestra was a welcome addition.

“Eden/Eden” comprised the second half of the performance.  It was choreographed by Wayne McGregor and “… places the role of technology at the heart of an evolutionary and cautionary tale about the ethics of surrounding the human body.” The story deals with issues related to cloning and the notion that there are many Edens, that is, the place where life beings.  Steve Reich’s spoken libretto/ musical score was from his filmed-based opera “Three Tales.”  I am a fan of Reich’s repetitive hypnotic music, so it use by McGregor was particularly gratifying for me.  The staging was very effective.  It ranged from an opening scrim-projection of a light morphing into disconnected computer-like messages, to a traditional “Tree of Knowledge” in the first scene, and finally, to green lighting that recalled the iconic computer code from the “Matrix” movies.  The dancers appeared to be nude as they arose through the stage floor, and gradually added garments about toward the latter half of the piece.  The music, staging, and choreography combined to make a stark, challenging piece that attempted to address issues of the relationship between various states-of-being, such as whether human clones have souls.  (The film “Never Let Me Go” powerfully deals with this issue also.)  To the degree that dance can shed light on such issues, “Eden/Eden” did so for me.  It was stark and wonderfully choreographed and performed. 

The Atlanta Ballet dancers were wonderful in “Eden/Eden.”  The work challenged them and they were up to it. 

One side note- it seemed to me that the smaller male dancers were able to convey greater strength in their moves.   I noticed this particularly in “Eden/Eden” where the dancers were required to make semi-circular arm movements, with their shoulder as the pivot point.  Maybe it’s because shorter-limbed dancers have less space to cover, but their arm movements looked stronger and more controlled than those of the taller dancers.  I said it was a side note!

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