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Andonis Foniadakis’ “Glory”: Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève at the Joyce, 2014….

April 18, 2014
Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in Andonis Foniadakis’ Glory. Photo© Gregory Batardon

Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in Andonis Foniadakis’ Glory. Photo© Gregory Batardon

Greek-born choreographer Andonis Foniadakis’ Glory, performed by Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève at the Joyce Theater is an intelligent and emotional work. Created in 2012, this acclaimed century-old Swiss company has a wide and diverse repertory and is noted for inviting guest choreographers from around the world. The 22 dancers are exceptional as they perform to Julien Tarride’s masterful remix of Handel excerpts such as Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah, sections from Suites De Piéces pour le Clavecin and the opening aria from Serse.

There is a lot of energy in Mr. Foniadakis’ Glory, but that can be said of all of Mr. Foniadakis’ choreography. He approaches the body in space like an artist with a calligraphy brush, wide swiping limbs, arching torsos and attention to shapes and patterns. His movements are like breath, an inhaling and exhaling of pure spirit.

Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in Andonis Foniadakis’ Glory. Photo© Gregory Batardon

Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in Andonis Foniadakis’ Glory. Photo© Gregory Batardon

The curtain opens to find fog rolling across the stage. Backlit by white light, a woman wearing a sheer black dress graceful steps from the light; Daniela Zaghini begins to dance energetically, her movements large with arms and legs swinging around her body, her focus constantly changing.

The beginning of the work is a testament to the dancers’ abilities and artistry. Constant movement is seen, the body turning and jumping, arms and legs are extended then quickly pulled in. The dancing is natural with limbs relaxed, the dancers approach to the movement is almost playful.

Mr. Foniadakis’ use of the body in space has an intrinsic quality that is very human… it brings to mind an Italian word I ran across in my research…sprezzatura… defined as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.”

Mikki Kunttu’s lighting design is an integral part of the work. The dancers enter and exit the stage from backlit columns of while light or later when the features of the dancers are hidden and they become living shadows of movement.

Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in Andonis Foniadakis’ Glory. Photo© Gregory Batardon

Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in Andonis Foniadakis’ Glory. Photo© Gregory Batardon

Tassos Sofroniou must be mentioned for his costume design. Men and women are both in black or red long pleated skirts made from an airy fabric that fluidly follows the dancer’s every motion. A woman steps from the wings wearing a large parachute-like dress, long rods are attached to the hem of the skirt, which the dancers lift from behind till it resembles the plumes of a dark peacock.

Three men manipulate a woman across the stage; her feet never touch the stage. She is held aloft, transitioned, traded and reclaimed by all three men. The is something magical about the moment…

Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in Andonis Foniadakis’ Glory. Photo© Gregory Batardon

Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in Andonis Foniadakis’ Glory. Photo© Gregory Batardon

Throughout, the dancers’ movements are repeated, altered or sometimes reversed. The deconstructed approach of Mr. Foniadakis’ choreography has only one law that must be obeyed, gravity… and even this he fights against. The body is pulled upwards to the point that it must inevitable fall, but he utilizes the energy of that fall for the transition into the next shape or phrase of movement ensuring the continuation of the kinetic energy.

Without a doubt Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève and Andonis Foniadakis’ Glory was a resounding success. When the performance ended….everyone in the Joyce were on their feet….giving the company not one but four curtain calls….

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