Opera ballet

The Lyon Opera Ballet presents “Limb’s Theorem”

The fragmentation of our vision, the events continually on the periphery of the stage, the simultaneous proliferation where to first watch pas de deux, solos and small groups, is at first bewildering, then thrilling. Just like in life, there is too much going on; the eye must organize itself, choices must be made, something will be lost.

The apparent alternations between chaos and order in this first section are amplified in the second part, “Enemy in the Figure” (first choreographed in 1989 and sometimes presented alone). Here, the stage is cut in two by a curved screen and partly lit by a moving light moved by the dancers. Mr. Willems’ music takes the disco-influenced rhythmic melody notes heard in Part 1 and turns them into a throbbing, often menacing sound that sometimes moans, sometimes growls softly.

“Enemy” is one of Mr. Forsythe’s greatest works, a poem of light and shadow, of bodies like atoms charged with energy that alter space as they pass through it, leaving behind traces of movement. But it opens quietly, with a woman in a white leotard lying on her side at the back of the stage in the glow of the moving light. Another woman crouches behind her, sometimes rearranging an arm or a leg. This pattern of rearrangement permeates the work, with conventional ballet forms rearranged into new forms that ignore the logic that usually determines the planes and impulses of classical dance.

The solos are transformed into pas de deux; form of duets; a mini-corps de ballet — repetitive and obedient — emerges on one side, then dissolves. Figures in fringed suits swirl thoughtfully in front of the curved screen; a cord throbs on the floor like an ECG; a large figure (Florian Danel) in white runs down the diagonal, limbs lock and snap into place, inscribing convulsive geometric figures in the air. And then the chaos subsides, the lights glow dimly and the dancers stop, motionless as if caught in a freeze frame.

All of these motifs pervade Part 3, an ensemble piece for 29 in which a male chorus line (a multiplication of an ordinarily dressed lone man in Part 1) moves with stylized jazz, threaded by slow and more inwardly focused. Objects have also multiplied: mobile lights; the stage, now split into two screens; a geodesic semi-dome. (The set and lighting are by Michael Simon and Mr. Forsythe; the design and lighting for Part 2, and all of the ballet’s costumes, are by Mr. Forsythe.) The Lyon dancers are not always clear in their way of showing Mr. Forsythe’s use of the shoulder (the very important changing relationships in ballet between the head, shoulders and hips), expanded from a conventional context of a way that requires crystal clear articulation and coordination. But their dance is admirably focused in intent and dynamics, with Randy Castillo, Julia Carnicer and Harris Gkekas particularly brilliant in a scintillating “Enemy.”