30 May, 8 p.m. and 31 May, 10 p.m.
Teatro Piccolo Arsenale
Dark Matters (2009, 120’) [Italian premiere]
choreography Crystal Pite
original music by Owen Belton
additional music Eric Withacre, Sleep, performed by Polyphony & Stephen Layton (courtesy Hyperion Records)
voice Christopher Gaze
lighting arrangement Rob Sondergaard
stage sets Jay Gower Taylor
costumes and stage elements Linda Chow
stage objects Robert Lewis
text adapted from Voltaire’s Poem on the Lisbon disaster
with Eric Beauchesne, Peter Chu, Yannick Matthon, Crystal Pite, Sindy Salgado, Jermaine Spivey
produced by Dance Victoria, the National Arts Centre Ottawa, L‘Agora de la danse Montréal and Arts Partners in Creative Development
A precocious talent that developed with the prestigious Ballet British Columbia after five years at Ballet Frankfurt, it would be William Forsythe who would have a profound influence on Crystal Pite, today one of the most sought-after choreographers. For the first time in Venice, Crystal Pite presents the Italian premiere of Dark Matters, performed by the Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM, which Pite founded in 2001.
Dark Matters is the point of arrival of a theme that Pite has developed over the past three shows, all of 2008: Matter of Maker for the Cullberg Ballet, Fault for her own company and Frontier for the Netherlands Dance Theater. What interests her is the unknown territory of artistic creation, which finds its corollary in dark matter. For while dark matter is necessary for our explanation of the universe, it remains totally unexplainable itself, so we should not be surprised that so little is as yet known of the human mind. “Creations for me is about experiencing an unknown territory, but it is also about trying to perceive my own mind. Something unknowable, destabilising and strangely beautiful compels me to create. And it requires me to work and live in a state of not knowing, even while I am making plans, manifesting choreography, and writes programme notes. Working and living in a state of not knowing is hard for me. I’m trying to connect to the shadows in order to illuminate something: bringing images to light by feeling around in the dark”, declares Pite.
The “dark matter” of the title is represented in the show by shadow-dancers (a concept Pite has developed over the past few shows), who are completely dressed in black and slide through space like the shadows that follow our body. These are characters whose role is that of “stage servants”, like the Kuroko in the Kabuki Theatre, and they represent those “invisible forces” that impart movement to the performance. The image of the puppeteer, “the shadow and soul of that which he manipulates”, introduces the idea of a real puppet that appears in the first part of the show: “How often I wished I could transcend self-awareness and just be moved by the act of dancing?”.
The performance is divided into two distinct parts: the first, strictly theatrical, is dipped in an expressionist atmosphere dominated by a gothic puppet moved by four dancers in black which ends by dominating its creator; in the second, the virtuoso skills of Crystal Pite’s dancers explodes: five of them are involved in acrobatic steps and torsions, like “objects buffeted by strong forces” (The Australian), while the sixth, still dressed in black, is the shadow that slides, enters and departs from the group in a menacing way.
Crystal Pite (Terrace - British Columbia, 1970) - She began studying dance at the age of 4 under the direction of Maureen Eastick and Wendy Green in Victoria. At the age of 13, she created her first choreography, The Bug (1983), selected for the young choreographer’s category at the Victoria Dance Festival. She then attended the Toronto Dance-Theatre School and the Banff Centre for the Arts. In 1988, she joined the prestigious Ballet British Columbia of Vancouver, where she remained 8 years under the direction of Reid Anderson, Patricia Neary, Barry Ingham and John Alleyne. It was with the Ballet B.C. that she had the opportunity to create her first real work, Between the Bliss and Me (1989), which is now in her company’s repertory.
Among her early works, it is worth recalling Reflections on Billie (1992) and Shapes of a Passing (1994), commissioned by Ballet Jorgen; In a Time of Darkness (1994) for the Alberta Ballet, which won the Clifford E. Lee prize and a six-week residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts; here, she created Quest, which subsequently entered the Alberta Ballet’s repertory. In 1996, she joined William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt in Germany, where she remained as dancer for 5 years and which she toured all of Europe, the United States and Asia. For Forsythe’s company, Pite has created Field. Crystal Pite returned to Canada in 2001 and currently lives in Vancouver, where she has created her own company, Kidd Pivot, with which she continues to dance and for which she creates the choreographies.