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THE DANCE OF THE TIME (article first published : 2000-07-5)

The Dance of Time (La Danse du temps) is a piece for 16 dancers presented by Le Ballet Atlantique and Régine Chopinot. It played the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this week and was received with much interest.

The stage setting was a blood red strip of some kind of coloured sand or powder taking up most of the stage floor, low hanging lights and a backdrop of what looked like an marbled pattern on a sun-baked clay background.

“The image of the river is constantly present in all our works,” says choreographer Régine Chopinot in her programme notes. She goes on to add that it was the river that brought composer of the piece Tôn-Thât-Tiêt back to Vietnam and the same river image that inspired Andy Goldsworthy to create the silt river stage set which includes the film of his huge clay wall with its undulating ochre pattern. Régine Chopinot herself was influenced river currents, gentle or violent.

At times the 16 dancers emulate the undulations of the screened backdrop as they move swiftly about the stage. Quiet moments could see a single figure rolling slowly from the back as of a wave slowly lapping a shore. The work is in three parts: the human time on earth; the time of the universe and a time that could be seen as lost, forgotten or absent.

The Dance of Time is full of beautiful moments although some sequences were incredibly drawn out and it appeared that many members in the audience of the show I attended were a little mystified as to what they were watching.

But Régine Chopinot’s words probably explain all. “As a contemporary choreographer, I am deeply interested in finding out how to change from frantic dancing to immobility without dying.”




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