Sunday, October 10, 2010

tero saarinen got it




HUNT, Finnish choreographer Tero Saarinen's take on what we know as the Sacrificial Dance from Le Sacre du Printemps debuted in 2002 in the states, perhaps 2001 in Europe and one thing is certain: he got it right. I always wanted to write about this but didn't for some reason. I've often talked with my father about choreographers' inability to resist Stravinsky's occasional "countable" pounding or sheer chaos. Everyone either stamps in the opening to match the staccato of the 8th notes or flails in the closing. Tero Saarinen stood perfectly still, used other media and HUNT became an event.

The alarming chaos of Stravinsky's final minutes can not be matched by movement of the body really...but perhaps only by eavesdropping on someone's disquieting thoughts as they descend into madness which is what The Chosen One would have been doing (note to Iosifidi of the Marinsky: you looked like you were thinking about what to throw up for dinner). The breaks in the chaotic structure of the music - and it is structure - seem similar to shaking ones head to stop the insanity from winning but The Chosen One is dying. So doing that, shaking her head, is an embarrassing effort on one hand and almost regal on the other. Nijinsky captured that, Pietragalla with her performance especially, by matching the music and the insanity of Stravinsky's dark story but madness becomes stillness at some point and Tero Saarinen got us to that point in HUNT with his brilliant use of light, strobing and projected image.

The images remained in pace with the music: dark and chaotic, flashing randomly in a disturbing way almost like a crowd murmuring louder and louder; Saarinen's face is dramatic, simply over the top and still and he allowed the music to just unravel because of it. It seems circular to me against his performance, the music, as if it peeling off of him. I still see The Chosen One hitting the lunge against the trombone and timpani or the jump with the fist in the air and I will never NOT see that when I hear Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. But Tero Saarinen's HUNT pulled together pieces previously left behind in my opinion to make a whole experience. Saarinen's HUNT is a multi-media performance piece and that's why it reaches these different heights.

In some ways, I don't believe his work should be a part of the Four Variants (this video which displays the best choreographies to The Rite of Spring) along with Bausch, Preljocaj and Nijinsky as reconstructed by Millicent Hodson because of the use of other media. Then again, other than the Nijinsky (Hodson), the original genius, what stopped everyone else from reaching for that extra element?
In the end, I have to give him his due: by using strobe lighting Saarinen sort of escaped the "stamp and flail" trap. If Le Sacre du Printemps were a board game, he'd win. But it's not.
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