The Irish Times
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Cold Dream Colour
Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire
Although it is billed as a dance homage to Louis le Brocquy, Cold Dream Colour refused to be a moving representation of static canvases. The first moments made it clear that this would be more than a visual experience: in darkness, the sound of softly padding footsteps crescendoed to breathy running until the dim light revealed a solitary figure, the butoh dancer Oguri, framed by partly parted curtains.
This was a homage to le Brocquy the artist rather than le Brocquy the painter. Rather than "bringing the paintings to life" it offered a deeply embodied reflection of the complex layers of meaning in his visual imagery, particularly his use of tone and texture.
That's not to say there weren't specific references to individual paintings - some images were too strong to ignore - but the choreographic team of Morleigh Steinberg, Oguri and Liz Roche seemed more concerned with harnessing the energy within the paintings than with surface shapes. That was left to the subtle lighting design, which was an equal partner to the movement, with lights irregularly criss-crossing the floor to evoke textured layers of paint and a restricted palette of warm straw and
steely-grey colours that reflected the artist's "grey period". Similarly, the soundscore by Feltlike with Paul Chavez and The Edge was sympathetic to the tonal changes onstage, from broad strokes of electro-atmospherics to precise dabs of timbre that matched the movement or primal percussion that broodingly bubbled under. Grant McLay, Katherine O'Malley, Cat Westwood and Roxanne Steinberg joined the choreographers onstage in an admirably concentrated, sustained performance.
Any re-evaluation of an artist like le Brocquy runs the risk of being so seduced by the craft that it loses sight of the beauty. Cold Dream Colour magnifies the sense of beauty, paradoxically by not trying to kinetically airbrush out the darkness within his canvases. Instead the dance celebrates his humanity to produce a reading that encourages a renewed examination of the paintings and a fresh glance at the ever-constant tension between individual and community, coalescence and fragmentation.
Review: Cold Dream Colour
By Deirdre Mulrooney
Monday November 15 2010
In 'Cold Dream Colour', Morleigh Steinberg's choreographic celebration of 94-year-old artist Louis Le Brocquy, her husband The Edge's haunting score (in collaboration with Paul Chavez) underpins the Butoh-inspired homage in a low-key, yet recognisable, way.
Steinberg and co-choreographers Oguri and Liz Roche create a 75-minute dream-space of hypnotic slow-motion dance tableaux in response to a series of Le Brocquy's paintings (helpfully reproduced in the programme note).
Embodying what might be the spirit of Le Brocquy's ethereal paintings, Oguri's opening sequence is spellbinding. His amoebic, creature-like facial expressions could have come straight out of Japan's premier Butoh company, Sankai Juku (who opened Dublin Theatre Festival in 2007), or else perhaps out of Le Brocquy's more mysterious portraits.
The spectre of a female nude (reminiscent of the 2002 painting 'Being'), behind a translucent, suspended plastic curtain then suddenly gives way to a Beckettian moment of visceral mouth-sucking evocative of Le Brocquy's spooky 1974 'Head with Open Mouth Clever'.
In what could be a roll on a lawn, after Le Brocquy's 1940 painting 'A Picnic', Irish contemporary dancers Liz Roche, of Rex Levitates Dance Company, Katharine O'Malley and the towering Grant McLay
- Deirdre Mulrooney
come to the fore in Roche's trademark soft gestural vocabulary. Roche's choreography approaches Oguri's exquisite Butoh being, and even sidles up to it, yet keeps its own integrity.
Beautifully lit by Oguri and Steinberg, there are two choreographic vocabularies at play. For example, a powerful solo performed in Morleigh's own diagonal, slanty light exists somewhere between contemporary dance and Butoh.
Roxanne Steinberg adds a graceful symmetry, while the child-like Cat Westwood introduces the joyful simplicity of Le Brocquy's 1951 'Child with Flowers', and a welcome breath of playfulness.
Mariad Whisker's subtle India-meets-Isadora Duncan flowing costumes clothe these shadows and suggestions perfectly in muted, neutral tones of grey, taupe, and off-white plastic.
More rhythmic variety and a climactic moment or two would have lifted occasional longueurs in this gorgeous, mesmeric tribute to a deserving Master.