Just after I finished Lapinthrope, I took some time out to go to some shows and had planned to write some reviews of some new shows. By a curious coincidence one of those shows was Thomas Hauert’s Modify that I had just seen in Vienna at the start of December.
In Paris, Hauert’s show was playing at Théâtre de la Ville, one of the world’s great modern dance stages. In Vienna, they had danced in Hall G of the Museumsquartier and the basement stage of the Tanzquartier. Hall G is used for most Tanzquartier shows apart from the really large scale productions like Jan Fabre’s monumental Je suis sang.
I was very curious to see Modify which I quite well-liked in a very different environment. And indeed it showed entirely differently. At Théâtre de la Ville, I was at the premiere while in Vienna I had been at one of the quiet midweek shows, either the Thursday or the Sunday. The audience was sparse if engaged.
At Théâtre de la Ville the huge hall was packed for the premiere. There wasn’t a free seat anywhere before the rafters.
At the end of the show I felt like I had seen some great performances from the artists. They were full of vigor and dance quite passionately.
On the other hand, the stagecraft itself fell flat. The giant photograph of the apartment seemed quaint and diminutive in the expanses of the Théâtre de la Ville stage. The lights which seemed to capture every movement of the dancers and so full of mood in Vienna, rather flat.
The large audience was enthusiastic, if not as excessive as I’ve seen the Parisians at Amélia of La La Human Steps.
By happy chance, I was able to join Thomas Hauert and the dancers afterwards to talk about the show and to compare how they felt.
Ursula Robb mentioned that they felt really alive, like it had been one of their best shows.
While being diplomatic, she hinted that the smaller audiences at the Tanzquartier might have had something to with how they danced.
Not that I didn’t know it before but I am still astonished at how important the audience and the context is to a live performance.
My general positive impression of Thomas Hauert’s Modify remains, but in Vienna I loved the concept and cared less for the performance. At Théâtre de la Ville, I thought the dancing and performance were exciting but was underwhelmed by concept/decor.
Photos from T.Lewyllie. Provided by Théâtre de la Ville, Paris