Cal Performances UC Berkeley
Friday, March 18, 2016, 8pm Saturday, March 19, 2016, 2pm Zellerbach Playhouse
The Ghost of Montpellier Meets the Samurai
An Open Letter to Rob Ballis and Cal Performances
The tradition of the Judson Church and its experimental dance/theater is, believe it or not, well known, even to members of the Berkeley audience. Experiments in “avant-garde” theater and dance have appeared in the Bay Area since (and before) most New York so-called ‘inventions.’ Trajal Harrell and his company, however well intended, presented no surprises, no innovation and, for many in the house, continual boredom and offence. If this is radical let us withdraw to what pleases.
A program that uses the French language as if it is a ‘cultural’ given may be charming, but it excludes the audience. On stage interviews, as on bad TV shows, are neither interesting nor provocative. On stage raffles are for movie houses. “Voguing” and/or drag queen fashion shows are better done in nightclubs. Blasting sound tracks are irritating as is phony crooning. The fiction generated in the title of this show evokes no real response since it is an excuse for an endless costume parade and the display of props. Yes, Trajal’s dancers can move, but where is the choreography? It consists of endless repetitive foot pounding, except for the imitative “Isadora” trio, which finally faded away.
If this be contemporary research in ‘new’ dance, let us reawaken the old. There are many lively companies in San Francisco who are more innovative in their use of drama, technology and, (hoorah!) choreography. They should be allowed the privilege of the Zellerbach Playhouse stage instead of this expensive (and pretentious) import.
Choreography Trajal Harrell
Dancers: Trajal Harrell, Thibault Lac, Wei Ming Pak, Perle Palombe, Stephen Thompson, Christina Vassiliou, Ondr ̆ej Vidlár ̆
Voiceover Rob Fordeyn
Lighting Design Stéfane Perraud
Set Design Erik Flatmo and Trajal Harrell
Soundtrack Trajal Harrell
Costumes Trajal Harrell and the performers
Dramaturgy Gérard Mayen
Trajal Harrell: The Ghost of Montpellier Meets the Samurai
Photo: Orpheas Emirzas