A ROSE IS A ROSE, IS A ROSE...
"The Name of the Rose" after Umberto Eco as dance theater in Görlitz
Boris Michael Gruhl
The struggle of the body and its claims in resistance to its covering and the associated oppression of the individual is the focus of this unfortunately not entirely successful dance evening.
The name of the Italian writer, philosopher, columnist and media scholar Umberto Eco, who died on February 19 at the age of 84, is for many people associated with the title of his book "The Name of the Rose", published in 1980. At first glance, it's a historical crime novel set in an Italian Benedictine abbey in the first half of the 14th century. The late Middle Ages, social, religious, political conflicts and, indeed, a series of murders. It's about a secret manuscript that ends up burning. It is - what splendid irony - the second part of Aristotle's Poetics and is about comedy! It is about passions, a forbidden love, and not least about the liberating power of laughter, of humor. It is obvious that this brings the present into play in historical garb.
The novel was prominently filmed, a success with the public, less so with the press, and Eco himself was not so enthusiastic. There are radio plays, and now also a dance piece by Dan Pelleg and Marko E. Weigert with the dance company of the Gerhart-Hauptmann-Theater Görlitz-Zittau. It is clear that no action ballet was to be expected here. Pelleg and Weigert are concerned in their dance piece with a selection of motifs, which in a good 80 minutes are sometimes more direct, sometimes more associative, in the order of the original, which takes place in seven days, alluding to the seven trumpets of the Apocalypse at the Last Judgment, in flowing transitions. The choreographers are looking for a reference to the present, that is also immediately clear. Contemporary dance language in medieval garb, especially in the anonymity of body-covering monks' clothing, accompanied by a selection of music from the late Middle Ages, austere sacred chants in contrast to secular, dance music, which then leads into the 20th century via Bach and Mozart with Arvo Pärt.
One can always recognize motifs that are meant to show the struggle of the body and its claims in resistance to its veiling and the associated suppression of the individual. Thus there is a duet in which two people tear off each other's robes and then, in the defenselessness of the naked skin, the pure lust of the body asserts its right. At times a massive cross hovers menacingly over the people, it is brought down to earth, drilled into the ground, grounded. In the premiere, unfortunately, this does not want to work, the dancer can not release the cross from the suspension, actually a great coincidence according to the motto: 'The cross with the cross'. Then, in analogy to the cross as a sign of religiously motivated unfreedom, a scene under the pendulum of a coin with the image of the emperor as a motif of secularly motivated unfreedom. The fools appear, with their caps they have something devilish. A holy chair is occupied, even more - this is probably the strongest scene of the evening - the instrument of power is literally raped by a dancer, who is then crushed under the weight of the symbol by this massive sign. So again and again the contrast of departure and escape and retreat, self-denial, attempts at liberation, relapses into bondage. The costumes of Markus Pysall, once the frocks of anonymity, which also cover the face, and those of liberation in their bright airiness, play a special role.
This new Görlitz dance theater evening, however, also brings problems with it. Even if one can accept not to expect a continuous plot, this sequence of motifs brings a certain exhaustion in its repetition and sometimes also interchangeability in the dance means and the different presence of the eleven dancers. Moreover, they are not always able to correspond to the strong specifications of the music, such as the aria "Erbarme dich" from Bach's St. Matthew Passion or the "Et incarnatus est" from Mozart's Great Mass in C minor.
There remains the question of the meaning of the rose. The unfathomability of this miracle of nature in the correspondence to the unfathomability of human existence is addressed at the beginning in a text after Michael Ende. At the end, in an apotheosis of liberated bodies under an oversized rose, which in its stage artificiality also has a threatening effect, the circle closes: "A rose is a rose, is a rose....", freely after Gertrude Stein. It should probably also be an evening of dance for the freedom of the unfathomable and the associated freedom of the human spirit, which is expressed not least in the freedom of the body through contemporary dance. There is no shortage of ideas. Unfortunately, in this latest work by Dan Pelleg and Marko E. Weigert with the dance company, they do not find their dance counterpart to the extent that is actually customary.