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mary wigman fabian barba

Julie Rodeyns

The young Ecuadorian dancer and choreographer Fabian Barba is fascinated by the legendary German expressionist dancer Mary Wigman (1886- 1973). As he graduated from the prestigious dance school P.A.R.T.S. in Brussels, he already put one of her early solo’s to the stage. For his first evening length piece: ‘Mary Wigman, a dance evening’, he brings a re-enactment of nine short dances. Before the intermission, you see six solos from the cycle ‘Shifting Landscape’ (1929). After the break Barba brings fragments from the works ‘Visions’ (1925- 28) and ‘Celebration’ (1926).From the moment you walk in the theatre, every little detail tends at bringing you back to the first decades of the 20thcentury: fi. the two chandeliers hanging a bit clumsy over our heads and the programmes on every seat, that tell us what to expect once the heavy, red curtains open. That air of nostalgia never disappears, but as soon as Barba appears on stage, you’re immediately put back in the 21st century. Instead of the fierce Mary Wigman, it’s a young boy standing there, in a dress. Don’t expect a tranvestite show however.Barba brings the solos with a seriousness and concentrated dedication that is fascinating and very convincing. He relied on videos, photos and texts and talked with dancers who studied at the Wigman school to recreate these dances. Sometimes their tone is –like the accompanying music- tender and the mouvements soft and fluent, but never unprecise. Other dances have a stronger and more upfront character. Either way, the tempo is much slower then what we usually see on stages today, which allows every single mouvement to be clearly demarcated. Off course the discussion to what degree Barba’s reconstructions are an accurate reproduction of the original pieces (something that is off course never totally possible) is an interesting one. However, it’s this physical control and preciseness in incorporating these solo’s of Mary Wigman that keep ‘A Mary Wigman Dance Evening’ a fascinating performance, even after viewing it for the fourth time.

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