Dance Film Review
Petite Mort is a piece choreographed by Jiri Kylian for the Nederland Dans Theatre. It is part of a group of six pieces, called the Black and White ballets, all choreographed by Kylian. Petite Mort was filmed for the first time in 1996 and is still being performed in theatres all over the world today. The lastest being in America by the American Dance theatre under the guidance of Alvin Ailey.
The piece starts of with male dancers playing around with fencing gear, as the women remain silent standing in the shadows upstage. The piece then continues with women gliding onto stage with sculpture like black gowns that they push around themselves while dancing around and with them. After the women disappear into the shadows again, three couples come on one after the other.
Jiri Kylian’s choreography is challenging in its nature and clearly so to the audience as it sometimes even coaxes out giggles and gasps. It is a highly physical match of ballet and modern dance.
Like all of the pieces in the Black an White ballets, Petite Mort has definite and clear sexual themes that explore themselves in the confines of the movements. “Petite Mort”, the title, translates into ‘Orgasm’ and with Kyrian’s clear understanding of the term it evolves itself into clear and amazing images. The men with their fencing movement signifies and emotes the masculinity of men in the relationship, while the women with their gowns signifies the power they have through their appearances. The gowns give the illusion of being attached to the women, but then we are shown they are not. This gives the women further power as they can control their appearances. These two routines are, or can be, symbolic for the sexual roles of each gender – the men are protectors and lead with their tools, while women are supporters not without their own armor. The piece then continues and evolves into being more about the physical action of sexual intercourse itself. In...
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