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Robert Abrams
Performance Reviews
The Joyce Theater
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Compagnie Maguy Marin - Les Applaudissements Ne Se Mangent Pas

by Robert Abrams
April 8, 2004
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011

Compagnie Maguy Marin - Les Applaudissements Ne Se Mangent Pas

presented at The Joyce Theater
New York, NY

Robert Abrams
April 8, 2004

Les Applaudissements Ne Se Mangent Pas (One Can't Eat Applause) is a difficult work. I loved the set. I liked the movement quality. I thought the noise the company was dancing to was a health hazard.

Let's get the unpleasant bit out of the way first. This work was performed with environmental noise, not music in the traditional sense of the word. Sometimes the noise sounded like a giant refrigerator humming. Sometimes the noise sounded like a jet engine. This airplane roar is persistent and annoying and unbearably loud throughout much of the work. We have enough loud noises in the city already. I know why Ms. Marin chose this approach. She is trying to make a commentary on human exploitation. I am in full agreement with her aim in this regard and believe that dancers can impact important social issues through their art, but I also strongly believe that Ms. Marin has chosen the wrong approach. Excessive noise will not reduce man's inhumanity towards man (or woman's for that matter), but will likely only add to the desensitization. Please move me to action, but don't give me permanent hearing loss. At least turn down the volume of the stereo. Because of the noise, this is one of the few works I would not want to see again (and if I did I would bring my decibel meter so I could report exactly on the difference in volume between this show and a jet engine).

The movement was well performed and had the deliberative quality of theatrical stage crosses. There were numerous exits and entrances, and much falling down. The group tableaux were visually appealing. Whether the dancers were walking across the stage on their feet or inching forward on their rear ends, the movement was very minimalist. The street clothes costumes fit well with the minimalist approach. There were grounded lifts and rolling on the floor, also with the same movement quality.

The macro-structure of the movement was also very minimalist. With very few exceptions, the dancing was performed at a single energy level from start to finish. The choreography is very well done, if you like minimalism. I have never been very fond of minimalism, but then I have never been very fond of cole slaw either. I am fully prepared to give credit where credit is due, even when the work isn't to my taste. That is the case here. This work was like a bottle of top quality olive oil. I do think the movement quality has been very finely distilled, but my personal preference would have been to use it as an ingredient, not drink it straight.

I loved the set. Brightly colored streamers in yellow and brown and white and red and blue and more line the back and sides of the stage, stretching from the rafters to the floor. The set, with its thin vertical stripes that sway in the wake of the dancers' passing, creates infinite entrance and exit possibilities, of which the dancers made full use. I would love to see Ms. Marin stage new works using this set. The idea of the set was imagined by Maguy Marin herself and the dancers. It was made by CERTEC.

If Ms. Marin wanted to make this work even more difficult, and more true to its minimalist sensibility, she should leave the choreography as is, but dance it to complete silence. After all, exploitation silences people.

Choreography: Maguy Marin
Original music: Denis Mariotte
Costumes: Chantal Cloupet
Lights: François Renard
Dancers: Ulises Alvarez, Manuel Chabanis, Teresa Cunha, Isaias Jauregui, Sylvie Pabiot, Thierry Partaud, Cathy Polo, Dominique Uber, Brigitte Valverde

Compagnie Maguy Marin
Photo courtesy of Bruce Feeley

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