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Arts and Entertainment

Orange County Pulls Another Ringer: Ballet Preljocaj Performs This Week

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The Barclay Theater in the OC is doing some big things right these days. Last weekend, they hosted the local premiere of a beautifully elegant evening of Sankai Juku, the award-winning Japanese company that is a highpoint of the dance form known as butoh. This week—only on Thursday—they present French contemporary dance with Ballet Preljocaj, a world renowned group under the direction of its celebrated choreographer, Angelin Preljocaj.

Interestingly enough, the company will perform a two part work entitled Empty Moves, accompanied by a recording of a live music performance by American composer John Cage. The score, Empty Words, was created and performed by the composer in Milan, Italy in 1977. As we hear Cage reading from the books of Henry David Thoreau, we also hear the Milan audience’s negative and vocal response to his music. Against this rhythmic and word-distorting aural landscape, both Cage’s delivery remains calm and the dancers move with “concentrated grace and form” (as stated in the promotional materials). Abstract movement patterns flow from one moment to the next from the quartet of dancers dressed in brightly colored casual-but-sexy T-shirts and shorts.

We are warned not to look for a particular meaning in the choreography, but to appreciate a new manner of phrasing, mirrored in the de-constructed soundscape.

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I’ve always enjoyed Preljocaj at his appearances in the US. He and his company have been around for twenty-six years and are a rock solid component of France’s cultural establishment. Both have received national and international accolades and he has made dances for other companies, including the Paris Opera Ballet, La Scala of Milan and the New York City Ballet. But, don’t think classical ballet with Angelin Preljocaj. Though his dancers are well trained and their movement vocabulary may lean towards line and extension (NOT pictured above), the choreographer is a modern dance dancemaker, with roots in New York with Merce Cunningham and Viola Farber.

So, though it may be a bit of a hike down the freeway, the rewards tilt towards great pleasure and satisfaction.

Click here for the trailer and go calmly to the south!