Trends In Promoting Romanian Choreographic Art

It is the third consecutive year when the town of the Union becomes, for three days, the capital of Romanian Contemporary Ballet. Or even of the entire Romanian ballet, one might say, since there is no other reunion of national choreographic forces yet, either complementary or including all other domains which our dance school develops today: choreography of academic type, interpreting the former and interpreting contemporary creations or – why not? – entertainment ballet, practiced especially for television needs by the famous troupes and soloists from numerous theatres in the country. Three editions are beginning to represent, for this festival, if not a proof of the fact that it has become famous, at least some certainties. For the first time now, one could not hear voices asking incessantly: "But, why Focşani? What tradition has this town in the field of ballet performance?" Hence, one couldn't either hear the answer ardently repeated: "None, that's why!" The Collegium of musical critics from the Men of Arts Association pertaining to the theatrical and musical institutions has firmly decided to organize its events almost exclusively in the towns where there is no professional artistic activity of the genre. Otherwise, what would their role have been, in relation to the public? Merely to double the activity of some specialized institutions?… "Still, why in Focşani?" "Because the ideal conditions for such a festival are met here: a splendid theatre, one of the most beautiful old theatres in the country; finally, a public that, even if it doesn't have a cultural background in the domain, it shows instead great receptivity." It's true that this public didn't come to be as numerous as it should be. This year, this was also due to the fact that the festival took place during the harvest time, when almost all the regional folks were working in the vineyards from morn till night. The second certitude, after that of finally setting the festival in Focşani – or more precisely, before this, in a strict order of their importance – is the utility and necessity of the "Panoramic" for the evolution of Romanian contemporary dance, by producing a state of emulation among choreographers who have been trying their hand on this field for some time and by stimulating some artists (obviously, dancers) to discover their vocation for the ballet creation. It is around this idea that discussions have permanently revolved, both the spontaneous ones, after each of the three performances, and the ones organized in the viva voce on the topic "Directions of Development for the Romanian Contemporary Choreography" – discussions from which I will further extract a few quotes, from my memory: Edgar Elian: The issue is to what extent the "Panoramic" succeeds in being what it plans to be – that is, an assessment of the national talents in the field of contemporary choreographic creation… At least until now, a single edition could never encompass the entire diversity of styles and trends that the quite large group of Romanian choreographers represents. However, over the three years, there have been on the stage of the festival Oleg Danovski, Alexa Mezincescu and Ioan Tugearu, Sergiu Anghel and Adina Cezar, Raluca Ianegic. Some important names were absent (Miriam Răducanu, Mihaela Atanasiu, Vera Proca Ciortea), but there were also some other names, unknown until then, that were launched: Ion Rusu, Mihai Belţic, Anca Tudor and – now – Adrian Mureşan. Ana Toboşaru: The condition for a larger participation of the choreographers in the "Panoramic" from Focşani is, I believe, turning this festival from an expositive one into a competitive one. The goal of the "Panoramic" is, naturally, that of presenting not mainly retrospectives of some of our reputed choreographers' achievements – as it did until now –, but putting forward performances conceived especially for the Focşani reunion and capable at the same time of substantially enriching the repertoire of the theatres under whose aegis were created. The ideal situation would be that in which every choreographer and every ballet troop in the country produced, annually, such a show; from the multitude of novelties thus appeared, a rigorous selection could bring forth into the competition in Focşani the most successful creations. Until that time, the festival is still coming against some hardships, of which not the least important is deferring the settlement of an accurate hierarchy of the choreographer's and dancer's importance in contemporary ballet. There persists here (as in modern music!) a steady confusion between the one who makes the creation and the one who merely performs it – imprinting upon it the intensity of his own experience. It's not the first time that the applause and the words of praise reward not so much the originality and the transmission power of the dance as such, as the fame earned – rightfully, however – by the ballet dancers that interpret it. Quite often – as it happened even in this edition of the "Panoramic" – the most interesting, daring and personal choreography is entrusted by the author not necessarily to some celebrities (here Ştefan Bănică and George Bodnarciuc) or to some dancers that are also evolving towards the status of ballet "stars" (Daniela Constantinoiu, Nicoleta Iosifescu, Roxana Sârbu, Beatrice Matei, Roxana Bodnarciuc, Cristian Gună), but to some excellent unknown dancers, pupils in the last years of art high school in Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca: they were called this time Mălina Andrei, Ingrid Lupescu, Gabriela Florea, Gică Matei and Angela Adam, Livia Tulbure, Claudia Pop, Remus Lux, Marcel Cazan, Ioan Coşeriu. Naturally, when the choreographers interpret their creations themselves – even if not alone, but with the assistance of other ballet dancers – they are in a privileged position. This is, for the present edition, the case of Alexa Mezincescu, as it is the case of Adina Cezar and Sergiu Anghel. The dance group "Contemp" founded by the last two ten years ago (the Focşani performance was, in a way, the preview of the jubilee performance that they are preparing!) has fully received the imprint of the two choreographers' personality, and also, the talent of its other members – Liliana Tudor, Mihaela Feher and Ortansa Niculescu – recurrently inspire the creators of the dances. The third certitude would be the fact that the global value of the performances presented in this edition is clearly superior to that of last year (also) due to some qualitative differences between the creations of the débutante choreographers and those of experienced choreographers. Obviously, Andrei Mureşan's choreography, with all its brilliance and charming enthusiasm, doesn't exhibit – can't do it yet – that stylistic consequence, that organic structure of language that offers the firmness of an original conception. But the large openness towards the elements of almost all kinds of dance (from the folkloric one to the academic one and from the entertainment one to the most elevated ballet of modern expression – resorting to pantomime as well as to abstract movement evince the need of the choreographer to accumulate, for a personal synthesis, what one can already feel in his performance Ars Choreographica. The art of dance: the contemporary art of dance, to be more exact. Theodor Mănescu: What is contemporary in the art of dance? And even in art, generally speaking? What defines the contemporary quality of the artistic act: the novelty of the idea or that of the language used to express it? Evidently, both, in the happiest case. However, I'd like to mention that I saw, not long ago, at the Bolshoi Theater, a performance with Giselle that I felt as contemporary as possible… Thus, in the broad acceptation of the terms contemporary age there seem to be encompassed some of the creations presented by Alexa Mezincescu – although they represent not so much the adherence of choreography to the academic style as its effort to subdue it and imprint upon it its own language. Even her by now famous works and the new ones up to this year's "Panoramic" – the Sonata for Solo Flute by Tiberiu Olah, the Piano Concerto for Cello by Anatol Vieru or Adagio by John Atarax – suggest the fluency of her choreographic discourse, the musicality of her dance structures and the beauty of the group pictures; or the power to create relations of dramatic essence between characters and to narrate a history only through dance, without resorting to pantomime; the endless source of inspiration that the art of all times and spaces is for the author; the value of detail in her choreographic composition and the importance of the static element in the context of this par excellence dramatic art. Each in other way though. Alexa Mezincescu: For twelve years during which I have created ballets, I have steadily been cautious not to repeat myself and always to search for something different – searching actually for myself. I found myself only partially, little in each work – and I am still searching. My attempts depend though on the possibility of having a troupe with which to work… For a decade, Adina Cezar and Sergiu Anghel have had such a troupe, created by themselves: the dance group "Contemp". And even if the structure has changed over the years, it was and still is a group with a rarely met homogeneity and cohesion. Adina Cezar: We are drawn together not by an institutionalization, but by the love for choreographic art. We dance with pleasure, with passion. Sergiu Anghel: Our choreography – mine, Adina Cezar's or, sometimes, of the two of us - doesn't intend to narrate, but to transmit ideas and dispositions, like non-programmatic instrumental music, as non-figurative painting. If asked what one of our works expresses, we would find ourselves in the position of that painter who said: "If I could have expressed in words what I wanted to express in this painting, I wouldn't have painted it." Obviously, the impossibility of "narrating" Adina Cezar and Sergiu Anghel's dances is due especially to the extreme generality of the ideas that trigger them, allowing thus for multiple interpretations: The Flying Violin, on Bach's music, talks about purity and light, about flying and freedom, and Dear Wolfgang represents, in Adina Cezar's free, jocund vision, the illustration of the confronting opinions, often passionately, belonging to the two choreographers of the "Contemp" group. On Progress, also on Bach's music, comes as a replica to the splendid Adagio by Albinoni with which, just as Lipatti with his Choral by Bach, the "Contemp" group has finished each of its performances, for some time now; the same profound meditation on human condition, on the eternal propensity for the ideal is to be found in the two works, created by Sergiu Anghel in a few years. What is really extraordinary in all the creations of the two choreographers, is that the ballet dancers of "Contemp" group, seem to invent ceaselessly, right then, before the very eyes of the spectators, every move, every attitude, every gesture – they seem so new, so fresh; however, they immediately merge in a perfectly coherent language. Finally, another certitude that can be formed even from merely reading the program of the "Panoramic" in Focşani: the Romanian composition creation exerts a benefic pressure on our contemporary choreography, triggering its progress, fertilizing its talents, offering them firm reference points in their ceaseless ascent.

by Luminiţa Vartolomei