The Prague Chamber Ballet gave their Metaphors of Dance October premiere as an 88th-birthday gift to company co-founder Pavel Šmok. This performance showed that the Chamber Ballet is aging just as gracefully as its founder.
Metaphors’ three-piece ballet opens with Come See Comme Ça, an onstage dinner party choreographed by Aleksandra Dziurosz, founder of the Warsaw Dance Theatre.
The dancers portray characters reminiscent of the classic 1980s film The Breakfast Club: a glamorous diva starving for attention, an uptight schoolteacher, an insecure girl-next-door hiding under a black hoodie, a suave playboy in aviators, a goofy guy clad in plaid, and an average Joe in suspenders. The dancers pair off in various couplings throughout a dinner party. The women’s character flaws – neediness, bashfulness, and desperation played to extremes – are highlighted, while the men’s personalities are more subdued and interchangeable, with one common goal: get the attention of the woman they desire.
Czech choreographer Hana Litterová tackles a much darker subject with Silent Cry (Němý Výkřik). Inspired by Antonín Dvořák’s The Water Goblin (Vodník), she presents a modern interpretation featuring a mother (Alena Krivileva), daughter (Jitka Tůmová), and the mother’s boyfriend (Hodei Iriarte Kaperotxipi). The juxtaposition of Krivileva’s elegant, graceful movement and Tůmová’s youthful teenage energy perfectly define their characters. The story turns dark when the boyfriend’s attention switches from the mother to the daughter. The growing tension makes the simple act of the boyfriend removing the daughter’s shoe feel like the violation it portrays. The perusal doesn’t stop there, and in the moment that the daughter loses her fight, leaving her body shuddering and her face drawn and detached, she breaks every heart in the theater. This serious subject matter is handled with such care and honesty that it keeps the audience captivated even when they can’t bear to watch.
The evening closes with This Is Not a Kiss! co-choreographed by Žiga Jereb from Slovenia and Prague-born Anna Štěrbová. This piece is filled with classic, well-executed contemporary choreography: roundhouse kicks, lifts held from under the armpits, and knees lifted off the floor only to be pushed back down again by the dancers’ hands. There is a bit of plot as dancers pair up, flirt, fight, and fall in love, but the stories are less defined than the previous pieces. In the end, the audience is simply invited to admire the movement. And in the end, these flirtatious dancers turn their attention to the audience.
The Costuming by Pavel Knolle adds the perfect amount of character to each piece. In Come See Comme Ça, outfits define the dancers’ personalities before they take a single step. In Silent Cry, the sleek lines of the mother’s green dress, the daughter’s tank top and skirt constantly being adjusted, and the businessman’s power suit and slicked back hair implying that he’s used to getting what he wants, add depth to the characters without feeling clichéd. The muted autumn colors of This is Not a Kiss let the dancers shine while keeping distinctive pairs straight.
You can see Silent Scream paired with This Is Not a Kiss! Dec 9 at the Ponec Theatre; and paired with Come See Comme Ça at the Ponec Dec 10. The entire Metaphors of Dance plays on Dec 25 at The Theatre of the Estates.
– Auburn Scallon, Opus Osm writer