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Beautiful, and Sometimes Not

Artistic director and choreographer Pascal Rioult makes his dances for tall, lean men and short, propulsive women, four of each. A strategy that does not always work, judging from the company’s performance at Kaatsbaan last weekend. Sometimes the two genders seem like different species: one small and volatile; the other, large and indefinite. The most stunning piece was “Black Diamond,” a work for two flood-lit women in sheer unitards each rooted to her own platform, dancing to Stravinsky’s “Duo Concertant.” The moves were spiky, pugilistic, like the music; and sometimes smooth and controlled as in their slow, gorgeous, spiralling, barefooted arabesques. Jane Sato took the lead, with the silkier, more dancelike Marianna Tsartolia following up. The two descend to the stage, touch in passing and return to their boxes. Rioult is heavy on atmospherics, and in “City,” projections of high-rise facades slide behind four dancers in urban dress. This is from works Rioult is making to music by J.S. Bach, here to the Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 6 in G Major. Like all these dances, the still shots are inspired; the moves between, less so. Another work, this in progress and so far unnamed, moves all eight dancers smoothly to the agitated first movement of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6. A feckless pairing it seemed to me. And finally, “Bolero,” to Ravel’s famed work, performed hectically, all jabs and angles, as exhausting as anything Ravel had in mind.

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