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Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Carmen
Compañía Metros: "Carmen"
Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, Chelsea
Feb. 21-March 4, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 and 7:30 p.m., $44
Tickets: (212) 242-0800 or www.joyce.org
Reviewed by Jack Anderson, Feb. 23, 2007
Although all dancers surely sweat on stage, choreographers seldom make them appear to be portraying people who are sweating in real life. Ramón Oller left no doubts that characters sweated in his "Carmen" for Compañía Metros of Barcelona.
Compañía Metros presents "Carmen". Photo by the Courtesy of Compañía Metros.
Set to an adroitly arranged collage of music by Bizet and Martirio, this was a gritty adaptation of the familiar tale in modern-dress costumes designed by Mèrce Paloma, who put the men into undershirts, and with all events taking place on the roof of a tobacco factory (as a sign on the building made clear) designed by Joan Jorba. The action was fierce, the characters looked street-wise, with nothing picturesque about them. Feet dug into the floor or kicked the air in choreography that combined contemporary ballet, modern dance, and flamenco. It was easy to imagine these people shouting and cursing. And Oller made you see how quickly they could work up a sweat and quarrel.
Throughout the engagement, several dancers will alternate in some of the principal roles. Everyone was convincing at the performance I saw, beginning with Sandrine Rouet, whose Carmen was a young woman of unpredictably changing moods, someone who could flirt and tease, exuding a girlish charm, then suddenly turn into a tough spitfire, slinking and prancing as she capriciously lured and banished men, thereby treating seduction as a game. But the game turned ugly. Rejections could wound her and when Carmen antagonized other women, a danced argument resulted.
She kept bedeviling men. Foremost among them were Vicente Palomo, a likeable Don José for whom she softened in a tender duet, and Christian Lozano, a macho Torero, whose mesmerizing arrogance captivated women and inflamed men to paw the earth like angry bulls he sought to tame.
The strangest character in this production, which was usually realistic (at least to the extent that dance can be a literally "realistic" art), was an imposing older Gypsy played by Mari Carmen García. Gesturing as if casting ominous spells and letting her flamenco stamps thunder, she became a symbol, rather than a character: a one-woman Greek Chorus or Figure of Fate whose movements portended doom and who, at times, gave the impression of leading characters toward their destinies while at other times she could have been shielding them from woes she knew would befall them.
The Gypsy helped bring about the enigmatically symbolic conclusion. Opening a rooftop water tank, she let its contents shower the stage. Carmen and José splashed and struggled in the pool that formed, and José appeared to be trying to strangle her, although she was already drowning in emotion. Yet one critic compared the incident to a baptism. In any case, the stage was flooded with passion as this taut 75-minute piece moved ahead with mounting excitement.
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