Similarities between Martha Carter’s works and Gyorgy Ligeti’s are: always trying new things, using simple concepts and structuring them to build complex phrases, the use and
love of rhythm and a sense of joy, pleasure and fun in process. Through years of research Martha Carter, choreographer of Speaking in Ligeti found the featured composer made all of his works in one composition. From this inspired time he took the pieces of this one strong diverse composition and stretched, played, modified them over his career. The choreography in Speaking in Ligeti is similar in that the show holds many aspects of interest. The stage changes often, as well as the lighting the mood and the intention. With a duet between musician and dancer, group process showing offers a peek at some creative inspirations as the performers interact with each other and lastly a more seamless performance of musicians playing and dancers interpreting the music of Ligeti.
The musicians and dancers investigated the compositions and historical situation of Gyorgy Ligeti; playing with actual scores and components of his work while using it as a springboard to other creative possibilities. Elements of this are present in the show featuring metronomes to inspire various rhythms in the dancers, building to a symphony of dancers moving to their own rhythmic pulse within a group; an ode to Poème symphonique one of his more controversial compositions.
The process work featured towards the middle of the show is engaging as it brings the viewer into the laboratory and allows us to see how dancers and musicians can play move, rearrange and learn from one another. The space becomes deconstructed, motifs similarly found in Ligeti’s scores are peppered throughout and repeated. Tension felt in his music is embodied in the dancers as they physically push against, pull away and gang up on each other. Physical comedy helps to lighten the often thoughtful and investigative, at times educational, progression of the show; two grown men climbing over one another to claim ownership of a chair.
The dancers are allowed the freedom to work within their own styles which works nicely to display the actual structural elements of the choreography. Their strengths are amplified by the diversity of their movement styles. One dancer shows an impressively high arabesque while another performs a low yet impressively balanced one. One dancer moves with impressive clarity while another, fluidity. The variants are very pleasing for me, as a dancer, to watch.
Towards the second half of the show the musicians buckle down and begin to work through the complexities of Ligeti’s musical scores as the dancers embody his work, either physically or conceptually. At one point the dancers are standing on their chairs encircling the musicians and I wonder if they will interact more with the players as the music continues, but the switch brings them to rearrange again leaving the musicians peacefully in their circle.
As the show comes to a close with a tension filled ending I’m left wanting more; having just settled into the format and compositional elements of Speaking in Ligeti. However, I’m grateful for the experience of seeing a composer I’d barely known of before come to life with such vibrancy through a dialogue between music and movement on stage.
Tickets: $35 General $30 Students & Seniors
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