Presented by San Francisco Performances
Performed at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Wednesday, February 20, 2008, 8PM
San Francisco houses numerous dance companies, but we don’t have anything quite like Compañía Nacional de Danza. Led by artistic director and choreographer Nacho Duato, the company’s amazingly talented dancers hail from all over the world and what they brought to the Yerba Buena stage last night was something I’ve never experienced. The company, over two hours, explored current and historical issues through powerful contemporary dance and received a well-deserved standing ovation from a full house.
Duato has a style all of his own, stressing the strong use of canon, repetition, rhythm, and justifiable unison. His movement leans towards curves and sweeping limbs with well-placed hops, and themes range from literal to more abstract. Here on the local stage, we were treated to three of his more focused issues: castration, slavery, and drugs, all in some way or another delving into who we are as individuals and in short, how we define ourselves and identify with those around us.
“White Darkness,” Duato’s introspective look at drug use and abuse, brought the crowd to its feet. With sand dropping from above and brushing to and fro, Ana María López, Amaury Lebrun, Soojee Watman, Francisco Lorenzo, África Guzmán, Randy Castillo, Inês Pereira, and Fabrice Edelmann, dressed in reddish black, danced in pairs. They resembled the body and how it responds to drugs: quick and flighty at the onset and lethargic at the end. As the lead couple, Yolanda Martín and Dimo Kirilov swept from one end of the stage, leaping and embracing until she makes a potentially deadly decision. All the while Jaffar Chalabi’s honeycomb-like structure grew and stretched upwards in the background, and the dancers, set, and falling dust continued to morph like a quick-spinning kaleidoscope against Karl Jenkins’ “Adeimus Variations” and “String Quartet No. 2”). Joop Caboort’s lighting design came to fruition at the finale, leaving many to gasp as the beauty of sand, body, and shadow.
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Photo courtesy of Compañía Nacional de Danza