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Fantasy. Hans Van Manen

Fantasia. Dancer Partners
  • Choreography: Hans van Manen
  • Music: Johan Sebastian Bach: Chorale Prelude Ich ruf zu Dir, BWV 639 Praludium in a-minor (Fantasie). BWV 922
  • Sets and costumes: Keso Dekker
  • Light: Joop Caboort
  • Staging: Mea Venema
  • World premiered by Nederlands Dans Theater at AT&T Danstheater, Den Haag, April 15th, 1993. Premiered by Compañía Nacional de Danza at Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid, November 22nd, 1996.

Van Manen set Fantasía to a chorale prelude, prelude and chorale adaptation in Busoni`s piano adaptation of Bach. The set designer, Keso Dekker, designed a black framework -with transparent wings that protrude slightly onto the stage and are marked at the bottom by little red lights - in which three women appear. Their sensual undulating hip movements made in unison entice the men, whose response in allegro is powerful, almost robust. Then the tone becomes more serious. Both sexes take up positions opposite each other. They stand frozen for a moment on opposite sides of the stage, face to face, as if at the beginning of a competition, waiting.

A duet follows. Its tone, mainly lyrical, has a youthful, fresh accent. After a powerful, then often repeated, intermezzo by the group, another duet follows. This time it is powerful and militant, although there are also moments of tenderness and abandonment. Then a wonder takes place. The intensive sounds of Bach`s piano suddenly begin to resemble those of Beethoven, of his Adagio Hammerklavier, to which Van Manen set his ballet of the same name for dancers of the Dutch National Ballet in 1973. Here too, the women of the couples are lifted into the air one by one until they form a closely knit collective that together performs a very subdued dance. In this literal excerpt, twenty years later, Van Manen`s creation again comes to life but in another form.

Time and place have changed, the action is the same. This brief flashback is as much a grand invention as it is a tribute to the dancers. That time has not stood still is also evident in the exquisite closing duet, which again clearly demonstrates that Van Manen`s style has evolved under the influence of these dancers: it has been rejuvenated without loss of depth or power.

Isabelle Lanze, "Trouw", April 1993