The Köln Concert  – Abbey Theatre – Dublin Dance Festival – Review

The Köln Concert  – Abbey TheatreDublin Dance Festival – Review

The Köln Concert  Trajal Harrell / Schauspielhaus Zürich Dance Ensemble
Presented by Dublin Dance Festival and the Abbey Theatre
Irish Premiere / Opening Performance – Switzerland

Duration: 50 minutes

The Choreographer of the piece, Trajal Harrell, is already on stage as the audience enters the theatre. He stands at the front of the stage in a relaxed fashion, exchanging comments with audience members in the front rows of the theatre. As the piece begins, the audience watches as Harrell starts to move and sway to the haunting sounds of Joni Mitchell.

This is an Irish Premiere of a work by American choreographer Trajal Harrell. It is the debut production of Harrell’s dance company at the Schauspielhaus in Zürich and was first staged in 2020. It arrives on the Abbey stage for two nights only as part of the Dublin Dance Festival. It features seven dancers of a variety of ethnic backgrounds, with much diversity on display on stage. The piece responds to the physical distance rules which were in place at the time of its creation, with little or no interaction between the performers on stage. It is largely a series of solo performances, with the other members of the group either in the wings or watching from the stage, while sitting a safe distance apart. The piece explores issues such as gender roles, the world of fashion and the catwalk. It was inspired by voguing, along with the iconic jazz music it is performed to.

The music for this piece played an important role in its development. The production is named after an album by Keith Jarrett, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1945. Jarrett is Jazz Pianist and was a member of Miles Davis’ group for a number of years. He is known for a series of improvised solo piano performances, which include The Köln Concert, which was recorded live at the Opera House in Cologne in 1975. It is the best-selling solo album in jazz history and also the best-selling piano album with sales of around 4 million worldwide. The production also includes the music of Joni Mitchell, with four tracks serving as an appetizer before Jarrett’s work takes centre stage.

The production is a series of smaller works, with the dancers reacting to the music being played on stage.  The music of Joni Mitchell or Keith Jarrett could never be described as dance music, but the choreographer’s love for the music is obvious and this brings an intensity, like they are dancing in their bedrooms to their favourite album. While it is a freewheeling and playful production, there is a lot to unpack in this piece. We see the dancers perform in loose and improvised clothing, and their sense of style is daring and wild. Their movements seem primal and dramatic, but only when called upon, at other times they sit almost motionless, ignoring the action of the other dancers or frozen in space. It is the simplicity of the piece that really captures you, like it was improvised on the spot, much like the music that inspired it.

Staging, Choreography, Set, Soundtrack & Costumes: Trajal Harrell
Performers: New Kyd
Performers: Maria Ferreira Silva / Perle Palombe
Performers: Trajal Harrell
Performers: Nojan Bodas Mair
Performers: Thibault Lac
Performers: Songhay Toldon
Performers: Ondrej Vidlar
Music: Keith Jarrett
Music: Joni Mitchell
Lighting: Sylvain Rausa
Dramaturgy: Katinka Deecke
Audience Development: Mathis Neuhaus
Theatre Pedagogy: Manuela Runge
Production Assistant: Camille Roduit
Production Assistant: Maja Renn
Set Design Assistant: Ann-Kathrin Bernstetter
Set Design Assistant: Natascha Leonie Simons
Costume Assistant: Ulf Brauner
Costume Assistant: Miriam Schliehe
Stage Manager: Michael Durrer
Production Intern: Moritz Lienhard
Set Design Intern: Reina Guyer
Technical Touring Team: Andreas Greiner
Technical Touring Team: Petra Kenneth
Technical Touring Team: Sara Mathiasson
Technical Touring Team: Stephan Wöhrmann
Touring Management & International Relations: Björn Pätz
Touring Management & International Relations: ART HAPPENS
Production: Schauspielhaus Zürich

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