Robert Dekkers’ Triads, Herbst Theatre, July 21

23 Jul

Triads must refer to Robert Dekkers’ third season as artistic director for Post:Ballet, because the program itself only sporadically demonstrated relationships of three in the four dances performed at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre, July 21.

A scheduled fifth was eliminated due to the destruction of a sculpture in the final work, a pas de deux.  Actually, that was good providing you hold the opinion that final  program numbers should be ensemble ones.

Dekkers comes across the footlights as articulate, very earnest. given to using  “and” frequently.  The program itself displayed a consistent “look” in its  photographs, high black and white contrast;  a ‘Twenties look – Clara Bow lips for the women, marcelled hair, single line eyebrows.  For the men there were Valentino-like side burns, brooding postures, careful hairlines; for both genders clear suggestions of nudity. The dancers themselves were ten; during the rest of the year they are claimed by Smuin Ballet (Jonathan Mangosing, Susan Roemer, Christian Squires); Ballet Arizona (Beau Campbell; Myles Lavallee) Diablo Ballet (Hiromi Yamazaki); Dominic Walsh Dance Theatre (Domenico Luciano) plus three with no obvious company affiliation.  Dekkers himself is currently a dancer with Diablo Ballet; Happy Ending, the evening’s  second work, was premiered  by Diablo  May 4.

Dekkers clearly knows how to package his work; the financial credits and  program testifies to skills so necessary for an artistic director.  Based on the program notes, he also  provides explanations/inspirations for his works, expressing them in contemporary style, which is to say lyricism and conventional romance [read chivalry] between the genders is somewhere waiting in the wings,  scarcely welcomed by musical choices, movement or  spoken opinions uttered as part of the accompanying sound.

Mine is Yours, premiered May 19 during the San Francisco International Arts Festival, here was interpreted by Domenico Luciano with Ashley Flaner, Raychel Weiner and Hiromi Yamazaki as the three women.  Described as “exploring the individual’s physical mental and spiritual relationship with the external world it was initially inspired by the book Sex at Dawn,” it touched on sexual sharing.  The three women walked on demi-pointe throughout, mostly with flexed knees, arms held  upwards in the stick ‘em up position, minus fright.  Torsos rotated from side to side, the head moved as if manipulated by a puppeteer.  In a diaphanous skirt and bare torso Luciano was prone downstage right. The trio moved downstage left before splintering.  Progressively, the trio made contact with Luciano in various ways individually and collectively, contacting him with their heads in his chest, being lifted on his shoulders, slithering through his legs, dragging him upstage.

Three is common in many cultures; I found myself thinking of the mythic Grecian Three Fates; spinning, measuring and cutting of human life; man moving from inertness to active involvement though remaining almost as uncomprehending as the trio’s  detachment.

Happy Ending, initially premiered by Diablo Ballet, is a pas de six with three girls in short skirts and tees, the fellows with suspender-held trousers, the use of the back wall to frame the six starting against it, almost climbing it. Dekkers had his dancers execute melt-down ronde de jambes, wiggling  calves and feet.  Girls were carried, or supported from the knees, heads
near the floor; the men gathered in a trio with spiral body movements, faces expressionless; the girls congregated, comparing notes body style; one moved back to the whitened back wall to execute a six o’clock developpe a la seconde.  “The piece suggests that we can find happiness and fulfillment in all of life’s “little” moments.”  The definition of “little” moments seems to have experienced a generational shift.

Following intermission Jonathan Mangosing and Christian Squires danced an excerpt from “Interference Pattern,’ abetted  by Amir Jaffer’s minimalist film and David Robertson’s lighting recreated by Jack Carpenter.  Both men danced in trunks, bare chested, Squires starting upstage and Mangosing downstage right.  In front of a brick wall, Squires’ head very gradually emerged on film while the two excellent dancers meandered their way towards each other and began to engage, a movement-dominated replica of fully dressed men, off-handed, studiously casual,  cruising for a male sexual partner. Ultimately, after many body rolls, contact was accomplished; as Squires’ face became more prominent, there was a sudden blackout.  Program notes read  “ The work is an intimate exploration of observation and its influence on our  subconscious behavior.”

When in Doubt with seven dancers  got its premiere this season, again with Dekkers’ lengthy explanation, and a fair amount of scattered speech by various voices “when we need to speak out and express our beliefs outweighs any reasons we may otherwise find to keep our thoughts to ourselves.”

At the ballet’s beginning this entailed an accented voice of someone obviously older making a generalized statement about being civilized.  For some time after that, youthful voices gave us monosyllables, and a few double directives, enough to make me cringe at current linguistic skills, gradually becoming phrases, comments, thoughtful reflections.

Dekkers used his seven dancers in a line on stage right, entering, progressing, retreating from the same.  In her single appearance Susan Roemer appeared to be carrying something small, important; later it was imitated by Beau Campbell, if my visual memory is accurate. Throughout  the ballet, this advance, retreat was emphasized against an original score by Jacob Wolkenhauser.

On this second evening Herbst Theater was almost filled.  Dekkers  must be touching a current cord, engaging a different generation of audience goers.

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