Famous Blue Leotard: The Leonard Cohen Dance Show The Singer Never Did | To dance

Well-known Blue Leotard: The Leonard Cohen Dance Present The Singer By no means Did | To bop

TThe voice is unmistakable. This wealthy grain and the unhappy, lived tone can solely be Leonard Cohen. His tune Suzanne performs whereas a girl falls into a person’s arms on stage. He then curls, lifting and balancing her physique again and again with out her ft ever touching the bottom. The dancers are from Canadian firm Ballets Jazz Montréal, and Cohen gave his blessing for the creation of this present set to accompany his songs. He accepted of the music selections and handpicked sure recordings, however died in November 2016 on the age of 82 earlier than the rehearsal course of had begun.

“He needs to be on the premiere,” says dancer Andrew Mikhaiel. “He ought to see the present. So once we walked into the studio on the primary day, it carried weight. We needed to characterize him and ship one thing very magical. He is a Canadian icon: it was such an enormous accountability. However on the premiere – I will always remember that – we had been all in a circle and we felt his presence.”

The present entitled To dance Me has been touring since 2017. In 2021, a brand new director, Alexandra Damiani, took over from Louis Robitaille, who commissioned the work. Typically new bosses wish to ditch previous representatives and put their very own stamp on issues – and Damiani initially had doubts about dancing to such distinctively widespread music. “I may see all of the traps it may fall into,” she says. “Leonard Cohen’s work can stand by itself. I do not want dancing to get pleasure from it, in order that they’d higher give me one other method to expertise it.” Then she watched the present. “I used to be disarmed by the wonder,” says Damiani. “It is such a poetic homage.”

Nor can she have been blind to the industrial attraction, nor the moment connection audiences have with the music – though Dance Me is not a jukebox musical through which you employ the songs to inform tales or one’s biography for example singers. There isn’t a linear narrative right here, as a substitute there are moods and themes, flickering photos, hints of relationships. “There’s sensuality, there’s despair, there’s love, there’s loss — Cohen’s work represents all the pieces about life,” says Mikhaiel. “It is like taking the dancers for a stroll,” says Damiani, “via fall, winter, spring and summer time. We undergo time with them. Cohen mentioned: “All the pieces has a crack. That is how the sunshine is available in.’ For me, the dance nearly goes via the cracks of the songs.”

That is Ballets Jazz Montréal’s first go to to the UK since 2011. Regardless of their identify – they began performing all the pieces from ballet to jazz in 1972 – they’re now a up to date firm and Dance Me was based by three choreographers: Belgian Annabelle Lopez Ochoa , Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis and Swiss-based Briton Ihsan Rustem. Everybody has a unique fashion, though with the final piece you possibly can’t at all times be certain who did what. Foniadakis brings “vigor and chew,” says Damiani. “Boogie Avenue feels very horny, hyper-energetic and dynamic, which is a part of the essence of the corporate.” Mikhaiel says, “I see the music once I see Andonis’ work.”

“I nonetheless get goosebumps listening to the songs” … Cohen in 1976. Photograph: dpa image alliance/Alamy

Rustem, alternatively, was most within the tales and poetry of the songs and got here to the rehearsal together with his “Bible” filled with lyrics. Whereas Lopez Ochoa, recognized for the Frida Kahlo ballet Damaged Wings for the English Nationwide Ballet and A Streetcar Named Want for the Scottish Ballet, is described by Damiani as “geometric and clear – but additionally very human”.

The performers are very straightforward to observe, quick and smooth, half-dressed, melted our bodies and lengthy legs throughout, all very seductive (as Damiani places it, “bare-chested and giving 200%”). However additionally they draw on among the layers and contradictions of the music, which strikes from menacing to craving, haunting to candy; darkish and lightweight on the identical time. “Dance Me to the Finish of Love is probably the most lovely unhappy tune – it sounds lovely however the message is so heavy,” says Mikhaiel. “Well-known Blue Raincoat feels like a lullaby, but it surely’s a couple of love triangle. It is visually lovely on our present, however Andonis does an excellent job of displaying how messy relationships could be.”

Mikhaiel finds that he tunes into totally different components of the music for every efficiency. “Typically you dance to the sound of his voice. Typically you react extra to the musicality, the devices. Typically you get misplaced within the story of the tune.” Regardless of having danced in additional than 180 exhibits, Mikhaiel nonetheless finds transferring to Cohen’s voice thrilling. “I get chills once I hear the songs,” he says. “Each time the beat hits Nevermind, my coronary heart beats quicker.”


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