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Preview of Johan Inger’s Rain Dogs | Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet….

November 13, 2013
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in Johan Inger's “Rain Dogs”; Photo by Jim Stott. Courtesy of Cedar Lake, Inc.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in Johan Inger’s “Rain Dogs”; Photo by Jim Stott. Courtesy of Cedar Lake, Inc.

My admiration for the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet  is no secret. So I was thrilled when I received an invitation to the first Work In Progress for the 2013/2014 Passport Series, featuring the restaging of Swedish choreographer Johan Inger’s Rain Dogs.

Performed to the richly textured music of Tom Waits, Rain Dogs is an homage to “the urban dispossessed.” Each song brings another scene, linked through movement, that captures both parody and sympathy for the myriad of characters who populate the work. Portraits of men and women and their relationships evolve through movement that explores both graceful suppleness and grotesque dislocation. In a series of intimate vignettes, Mr. Inger creates a quirky study of what it is to be human.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s Acacia Schachte in Johan Inger's “Rain Dogs”; Photo by Ally Duffey. Courtesy of Cedar Lake, Inc.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s Acacia Schachte in Johan Inger’s “Rain Dogs”; Photo by Ally Duffey. Courtesy of Cedar Lake, Inc.

Rain Dogs is work that is complex in its simplicity. There is an element of the everyday, a study of the human condition that allows for parody and intense honesty that underlies that parody. That which is inherent and innate to being human gets dissected and then brought into microscopic view.

The stage had become a smoky world where shadows can conceal but never truly hide the realities of life. A line of dancers, all facing forward explore Tom Waits’ Step Right Up with arms and upper body only. A couple breaks loose to perform a duet of fast moves that utilizes the whole body. These two then run back through the line of dancers and in doing so gather a third to become a trio.

Gender roles are as interchangeable as costumes, while dancing in a group, one dancer runs off and returns in his underwear and this continues till all dancers are in their underwear. Then Jon Bond runs of and reappears in a red dress. Ebony Williams, as if refusing to be outdone by Bond runs and reappears in a man’s coat and trousers. Eventually everyone has changed to the opposite genders’ clothing.

Johan Inger’s Rain Dogs is surprising in its unexpectedness. The whimsy of the choreography is true to the remarkable stories that makeup Tom Wait’s songs. Mr. Waits’ deep raspy voice is matched by choreography that is as thought-provoking as his lyrics. The movement is intrinsic, an exploration of the inner landscape, the body’s portrayal of emotion, of thought, of irony.

Johan Inger made his breakthrough as a choreographer in 1995 after a very successful dancing career at the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT). Inger’s choreographies have won numerous prestigious awards. Between 2003 and 2008 he was the artistic director of the Cullberg Ballet. Since autumn 2009 he holds the position as Associate Choreographer with Nederlands Dans Theater.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in Johan Inger's “Rain Dogs”; Photo by Ally Duffey. Courtesy of Cedar Lake, Inc.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in Johan Inger’s “Rain Dogs”; Photo by Ally Duffey. Courtesy of Cedar Lake, Inc.

Cedar Lake’s Passport series creates a window into the process of creation and the work of the dance company. The series includes events such as Work In Progress showings and Previews that take you behind the scenes and offer you unprecedented access to Cedar Lake’s internationally renowned guest choreographers.

Be sure to catch Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet at the BAM, June 11-14, 2014.

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From → Ballet, Dance

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