Viviana Durante Company – Isadora Now is a soul-enriching exploration of feminine strength and power with the discovery of choreographer and dancer Joy Alpuerto Ritter’s blended movement palate that paints an exquisite and unforgettable portrait of a woman.
Durante has perfectly curated an outstanding programme of three pieces that look back to Duncan’s natural, unbridled and dramatic movement with Duncan’s own rarely seen piece (restaged by Durante) Dance of the Furies (1911), followed by Sir Frederick Ashton’s Five Brahams in the Manner of Isadora Duncan that reveals the influence of this incredible artist whose legacy continues to inspire today, as we see in Joy Alpuerto Ritter’s stunning Unda.
As a woman this programme really spoke to me, it was compelling, connecting and moving to see a female-led dance company, honouring an iconic feminist, dancer, creator, innovator and legend, with a talented cast of female dancers and musicians and new work from a female choreographer.
The evening opened with Dance of the Furies which was groundbreaking when it was first performed in 1911, with five female dancers stripped of their traditional feminine, beautiful movements, and given ugly, demonic and frenzied forms set Gluck’s opera, that Durante’s dancers with their extensive physical range heightened through their contorted, writhing and ritualistic movements that resonated a raw, dark power.
Ashton’s solo Five Brahams in the Manner of Isadora Duncan was sadly not performed by Durante due to an injury from an earlier show, however, her replacement Begoña Cao gave a stellar performance to the live Brahms piano played on stage. Dressed in a floating pink dress Cao was captivating as she moved with glorious lyricism in Ashton’s tribute to Duncan, that sees her natural, barefoot, floating and free as she spirals to the end with rose petals echoing her movements as they fall from her hands and tumble onto the stage in a heartfelt end.
Ritter’s Unda is a visceral experience that opens with two shards of light crossing the stage and the sound of a foreboding rustling off stage, alluding to an external world beyond the dark cavern. Adorned with large bowls the scene sees the coming together of six unique female dancers who continue the theme of the ritual dance. They move with a distinct and raging power, fists are raised, their stance grounded and strong, as they perform the seamless blend of Ritter’s balletic, contemporary, voguing and street dance in a continuum of rippling, edgy, empowered forms. These dancers share and explore the female experience, the relationships, their forms, their connection, as Ritter tells the story of Duncan’s life. The element of water infuses each scene as it did Duncan’s life.
Impressively waterfalls from the ceiling into each of the large bowls, that the dancers dip their long cascading hair into, flinging wildly creating momentary water sculptures. With whispers of Isadora’s movement and technique, it’s a stunning tribute danced to an onstage cellist who also live remixed breath sounds that together with the dramatic lighting created an exceptional atmospheric piece.
Reviewed on 26th of February at the Barbican Centre