Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Dulcinea Langfelder & Co.- Like Watching the Birth of Fire

 Opening night at the Neighbourhood Dance Works'
 Festival of New Dance in St. John's
 With a powerhouse performance, Dulcinea Langfelder and her well-oiled machine of four conquered the audience's hearts and minds.  They were impressed with her sheer energy, the scope of the program and the visual impact of the staging.  Make no mistake about it Dulcinea Langfelder is a force to reckon with.  The audience leapt to their feet with a standing ovation and buzzed during the after show reception, "when can we see her again?"

The program Dulcinea's Lament gives a memorable stage presence to the often referred to but never actualized love of Don Quixote.  The archetypical "invisible woman".  Dulcinea shares a name with the character and she probes its role as her muse.  She often uses humour as a foil, to skewer 400 year's worth of historical events, world religions and the plight of women in general.  It is encyclopedic in scope and ambitious by any stretch.  But Dulcinea manages to keep the muse and a-muse at the same time.  The staging for me, with its visual puns and metaphors, kept the production inventive.  Many of the ideas –goddess theory, universalism, the subjectivity of historical interpretation and feminism– are not new but their presentation was and it benefitted from Langfelder Jewish flavoured humour.  And ability to laugh at ourselves probably is our best route to salvation or at least survival.

When I sampled the crowd post show for reactions I was greeted with enthusiasm all round.  One man described the ravishing impact of the show as, "it was like watching fire be born".  Several of the under 35 crowd said they were still processing all the religious and historical references.  A few of the over 35s described it as "brave" in its feminism and critique of religion.  Everyone loved the choreography and the use of global rhythms and popular music.

Where the crowd, most significantly for me, diverged in opinion was in the production's inclusion of the tragedy of 911.  Some felt that was the highlight of the show; others felt that it was the weak spot.
Another segment (and all these opinions were expressed out of earshot of each other) was that it was unresolved but that was the most appropriate way to express the rawness, the "out of nowhere"ness of 911.  Either way, it was a stellar opening for what promises to be a very successful festival.
Inventive staging animated familiar goddess imagery.

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