Dance Review: L'Apres-midi @ Laban

By Hazel Last edited 110 months ago
Dance Review: L'Apres-midi @ Laban

Laban centre, image author's own
L'Apres-midi, performed at the Laban Centre as part of Dance Umbrella, is a serious, quite highbrow piece of European dance theatre that doesn't resort to crowd-pleasing or spectacle in order to keep the audience focused. Choregrapher Raimond Hoghe puts the streamlined, straight and composed body of young French dancer Emmanuel Eggermont through a precise and deeply felt piece which Eggermont performs with what seems to be a highly personal commitment to each movement he performs.

The solo dance, full of controlled, careful movement is in direct, deliberate contrast to the music. Set to Debussy's Prelude a l'Apres-midi d'un faune interspersed with lieder by Mahler, Hoghe takes yet another classical, historically significant dance favourite and interprets it through his own choreographic vision. Vaslav Nijinsky's ballet to the same music is well-known and evokes whimsy, wistfulness, unpredictable animal behaviour. With this connotation it is somewhat dificult to appreciate Eggermont rising slowly, almost mechanically in the opening of L'Apres-midi, staggering upright as per a faun but with such precision and control, it's not long before one wants to see release, a shift of weight or some leaps perhaps. However, the poise and stillness of Hoghe's choreography continues through Debussy to Mahler's spine-tingling, morose lieder and back. The ritualised control of the piece creates an elevated sense of suspense.

Two glasses of milk mark Eggermont's initial performance space, eventually widened when Hoghe enters and moves them, stepping deliberately along specific paths as if of sacred significance. The carefulness and precision of L'Apres-midi is best understood and appreciated as ritual rather than a re-interpretation of a ballet; as a series of rites with the milk, the controlled positioning of Eggermont's body and the complex, introspective negotiation of the performance space, L'Apres-midi is tender, thought-provoking and ultimately uplifting.

Part of the Dance Umbrella 2009 programme. For other Londonist reviews of Dance Umbrella performances, click here. For more information on Dance Umbrella, click here.

Last Updated 08 November 2009