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Ballet de Lorraine Season 2022-23 #2: a tale of sentiment and feeling [by Tracy Danison]

1. LoicLPH3290109 2 - copie
Loîc Touzé’s "No Oco". Photo © Laurent Philippe

There’s a lot of contrast – in chronology, in genre, in philosophy – in Ballet de Lorraine’s 2022-23 season. I expect that’s why it has opened with Loîc Touzé’s No Oco  (Portuguese for “Not empty”) and Maud Le Pladec’s Static Shot. Though the choice of Le Pladec, born in 1976, and Touzé, apparently not born on any particular date in any particular year, is played by the ballet communicators as generational, the contrast goes to what dance does and how the choreographer gets to it.

Loîc Touzé and Maud Le Pladec are and were both top-line dancers. Le Pladec has danced for Touzé choreographer among many other of today’s frequently billed dance folk. Touzé danced for the Paris Opéra from an early age before getting out of classic dance and into real work. The shared starting point is important because the one and the other choreographer have the dancer’s attitude that dance is enough. Dance is a natural phenomenon. The spectator will naturally follow if the dancer dances right, according to the wordless but universal alphabet.

Touzé’s dance appeals to my un-worded sentiments. I’ve had a faible for Touzé since I saw, in quick succession, his Form simple, a dance through the Goldberg variations and Je suis lent,”I’m slow”, Touzé’s Conférence dansée (“Danced Talk”) on his life in dance.

In Goldberg, Touzé manages to locate the sheer deliciousness of Bach’s freed-up creative flow by invoking the sounds and movements of his (Bach’s) time. Je suis lent is like contemplating one of my own possible lives. In both, the choreography turns dance movement so personal that it becomes an invitation to share the moment, if not the skin, of the performer. In both these creations and others, music is danced over. It is not a background but a tool for adjusting how movement is understood.

The same intimacy-producing approach is at work in Ballet de Lorraine’s version of Touzé’s No Oco. From a stage cut in half by a long and broad bench (like a frontier), performers casually experiment a ceaseless and unstoppable flow of relationships over musics recalling different rhythms of life … It just seems to happen…

Like a lot of things here-below, No Oco ends in a rather haunting a capella.

Maud Le Pladec’s dance appeals to my un-worded feelings.

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Maud Le Pladec's "Static Shot". Photo © Laurent Philippe

In contrast to Touzé, Le Pladec is, as her presentation video, Créations 2009-19, tends to show, for performers and spectators alike, mostly exhilarating. Where Touzé uses music to gentle spectators into attention to performer movement, Le Pladec uses it to thrust her performers and, with them, spectators, into a physical and visual kaleidoscope of thrusting arms, stomping feet and untamed hearts: feeling, not sentiment.

When she’s obliged to put on heels, Karine sometimes will parade around the room pumping her butt and crying ironically, “Fuck me! Fuck me!” Essentially, that’s what Static Shot does: parades around shouting “Fuck for peace! Fuck for love! Fuck for fun!”. Except it’s no joke. Performer and spectator share a shot of pure energy – the eroticism is an incantation, not the thing itself.

Static Shot, as close as you can get to a hip-hop chorus-line march with majorettes without actually being a hip-hop chorus-line march with majorettes, flows pure energy (through music) into the natural sensuality of fit, willing bodies and envelops spectators in an attentive fugue.

Static shot is good stuff. Also it reminds audiences that contemporary dance is earth and air, that it handles feeling andsentiments certainly as well as break and ballet. Better, maybe, because freer.

Put Maud Le Pladec and Loïc Touzé on your bucket list.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
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as I enter
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from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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