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January 13, 2011

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Staging Bach as modern dance drama

MODERN dance inspired by the works of J.S. Bach (1675-1750) and his personal story will be performed by Spain's National Dance Company on January 20 and 21 at the Shanghai Grand Theater.

"Bach: Multiplicity, Forms of Silence and Emptiness" was created by choreographer Nacho Duato, artistic director of the Spanish national dance troupe. It was commissioned by the city of Weimar, Germany, to commemorate in 2000 the 250th anniversary of Bach's death. Bach lived in Weimar from 1708 to 1717 and was organist and concert master to the duke's court. There he began a period of sustained composition.

Bach's sacred and secular works are solemn and passionate, filled with yearning as well as peace. They are masterpieces of the Baroque; he was a composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist and violinist and composed for choir as well as orchestra and ensembles.

Duato undertook to illustrate Bach's works into choreography, transforming dancers' bodies into musical instruments, notes and melodies.

In the dance performance, Bach is sometimes a conductor, observer and performer. He directs the dancers as though they are a chorus or orchestra, the music flowing from their bodies. A female dancer plays the role of a cello in Bach's hands and moves with the music from vibrating cello strings.

The performance depicts love, jealousy, pain, passion, fury, despondence and inspiration.

"This is a work of originality, with a breath and depth within delineated boundaries," says Duato. "The vocabulary of arms and hands is unusually expressive. I found myself thinking of Egyptian painting, frogs' feet, witches' claws, the wings of a soaring bird and many other images."

The performance has two parts. The first and longer part, "Multiplicity," features 13 dance segments set to various excerpts. The second part, "Forms of Emptiness," is more somber and emotional, much of it performed to organ music from Bach's "Art of Fugue," an incomplete masterpiece.

Date: January 20-21, 7:15pm

Address: 300 People's Ave

Tickets: 120-580 yuan

Tel: 6217-2426, 6217-3055


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