Artistic Collaborations

Monday, June 13, 2011

THE WORD DANCE THEATRE’s original production of Preludes: Duncan, Sand & Chopin is based on the love affair between one of the leading French Romantic female writers and the French composer, Frederic Chopin. The other part of the story is how Chopin’s 24 Preludes were interpreted by Isadora Duncan, the mother of modern dance at the turn of the twentieth-century. The piece is an hour long weave of text, music, and dance which creates a moving and effective examination of these historic and extraordinary figures.

Conceived by Cynthia Ward for the Washington, DC based troupe, the actress Maia DeSanti is powerful in her portrayal of the passionate and prolific Sand as she recalls the final winter of their relationship as he was consumed by his music and tuberculosis. Traveling to Majorca Spain for his health, they only encountered attack by the harsh weather and a hostile reception by the natives. Carlos Cesar Rodriguez plays the preludes with great skill and sensitivity as three dancers (Cynthia Word, Ingrid Zimmer, and Jeanne Bresciani) perform Duncan’s solo dances in a dreamlike way that gives another dimension to the story and illuminates the characters with joy, pain, loss, and soul stirring artistry.

Duncan’s dances are at first musical interpretations and use simple movements such as runs, skips, turns, and reaches, but just when it starts to feel like unrelenting lyricism in a loose form, there is the surprise of weight and pain and intention that takes the work to a deeper place of drama. The dances become a perfect example of indirect and direct energy essential to choreography.

The role of Sand expands with the music and dance, as well as her idealistic love that turns into a lonely nightmare as her disappointment in not being Chopin’s muse is palpable. The music is a perfect stage for Duncan’s dances that become a silent song of sheer expression. Kudos to the creators of this original and heart-wrenching theatrical experience.

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It is with life as it is with art: the deeper one penetrates, the broader the view.                   
~ Johann Goethe