Christian Rizzo last presented his choreography in New York in 2010, and the afterimage of this ravishing experience, at least for me, remains firmly etched. In “bc, january 1545, fontainebleau”, Mr. Rizzo has created an austere black and white landscape in which a series of repetitive angular positions are transformed into a hypnotic movement meditation for the elegant high-heeled dancer Julie Guibert. Mr. Rizzo, as an intruder or part of the set, wore a bunny mask.
In collaboration with Danse: a Franco-American festival of performances and ideas, Mr. Rizzo is back in New York with two works. One, “sakinan goze coop batar” (Turkish for “an overprotected eye always receives sand”), from 2012, explores the notion of exile in a solo for Turkish dancer Kerem Gelebek.
The other, “ni fleurs, ni ford-mustang”, created in 2004 for the versatile and daring Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon, results in a more phantasmagorical place where repetitive actions – walking, sitting, lying – gradually transform the scene into a canvas. worthy of a surreal dream. Here, the masks are birds.
Curiously, the most recent work, “sakinan”, played last weekend at the Florence Gould Hall of the French Institute of the Alliance française, was the least fresh. At the final blackout, my immediate reaction was, when did Mr. Rizzo get sentimental? Her choreography is about the careful accumulation of textures through dance, sound, lighting and costume; despite those same tools, “sakinan” lands in a sappy place of melancholy.
Dressed like a traveler in dark slacks, a flannel shirt and a knit cap with a backpack strapped around his shoulders, Mr. Gelebek began sitting on a large wooden crate. Eventually it was taken apart to reveal a table. Through a series of methodically executed actions, he staked out a house with a plant, books, a chair and the table.
All the while he moved through space like a trance, squatting and rising in slow motion as if to retard momentum, but too often the careful placement of his body parts felt like a game of Twister. This portrayal of exile was right down to the music, which included a choral version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
In Ni Fleurs, Gérôme Nox’s excellent industrial score was full of agitation; before the curtain unhurriedly rose at the Howard Gilman Opera House at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Wednesday, the music canceled out the chatter as it sounded like an engine was approaching. The equally disturbing scene revealed scattered pairs of sparkling red shoes, a hanging skeleton and a deer carcass. Deliberately, seven dancers came onto the stage one by one and lowered themselves to the floor; every once in a while we would lift a leg in the air or point fingers. Some would come out; others would return.
It was slow but never stagnant. In this mythical world, dancers drifted on and off stage accumulating costumes and masks as beasts or relics of society at a party. Caty Olive’s lighting cast the scene in a dark twilight; little by little it became brighter, like a sky recovering after a storm.
At the end of the play, a disgruntled spectator shouted, “When are you dancing? But inside this perfectly choreographed world, the actors had danced all the way: in temperate steps that required their arms to hang down by their sides; in duets that encased bodies in strange bulges on the floor; and in the breathtaking moment when two dancers wearing bird masks paused for a good, long look before walking away.
Their precision was virtuosic. In “Ni Fleurs”, the desolation and melancholy of Mr. Rizzo seeped into your skin: These dancers were also in exile, but they had not been abandoned. At the end, dressed in glistening black full body suits, they danced up a storm.