Make the right ‘move’ and skip this digital ballet

It takes a lot of chutzpah to present a monotonous, repetitive piece of work to a receptive audience. Such an offering was shown on the screen at the “Ballet in Cinema” production at the Cranford Theater on Sunday afternoon.

“Move to Move” was filmed at theNederlandsDansTheater,The Hague, on May 31, and featured four contemporary ballets. In them, expressionless young men and women danced, in perpetual motion, until the audience was thoroughly exhausted; they twisted their bodies in agonizing movements, their unhappy faces matched their unhappy turns.

It reminded this reviewer of patients in a psychiatrist’s office, working off their frustrations with frantic body movements. Actually, during its 168 minutes, several members of the audience simply walked out before the end.

Before the beginning of “Move to Move,” theCranfordaudience was subjected to repeated shots of people entering the lobby of the huge theater, checking their coats, then of the complicated mechanical elements that allow the production to run smoothly.

The screen also came alive during brief rehearsals in an echo-filled hall, and some background conversation with the choreographers, Paul Lightfoot, Alexander Ekman, Sol Leon and Ohad Naharin. Later, there was a surprisingly loud applause from the filmed audience.

Some of the music, when there was music, was written by various composers, including Philip Glass.

“Move to Move,” is comprised of four distinct ballets. The first was choreographed by Ekman, and exhibited a more modern dance pattern than any ballet one has ever seen. The timing by the group of young dancers was exceptional, and featured originality, but too much rhythm, leaving the performers — and audience — panting with exhaustion.

In “Silent Screen,” choreographed byLeonand Lightfoot, featured the strange music of Glass’s “Glassworks.” The background showed three screens, a couple gyrating miserably, and a little girl who ran in and out of the film, endlessly.

In “Secus,” choreographed by Naharin, part of the ballet was notably called “Three.” The dancers’ body language practically exploded on the screen, much to the dismay of theCranfordaudience in a dance language that even its performers appeared not to understand.

The world premiere of  “Shine a Light,” also byLeonand Lightfoot, combined dance language with set designs. The most astounding costume was worn by the star performer: a gown that appeared to be made of a theater curtain, which continued to spread across the stage as she walked forward. The costume was designed byLeonwith Joke Visser and Hermien Hollander. Tom Bevoort provided the light design, which was dismal.

Accordingly, for the first time in the history of filmed ballet productions in Cranford, the tiny audience walked out, disappointed. In fact, the “move to move” out of the theater and into the sunlight was a sheer necessity.

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