Dance: Les Ballets C de la B

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Fourteen years ago this month, Belgium's Les Ballets C de la B launched its first North American tour at the Wexner Center with Alain Platel's "La Tristeza Complice." In 2003, the company returned to Columbus for the only U.S. performance of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's "Foi."

Now artistic director Platel and company are back at the Wexner - one of just four North American stops on their current tour - to perform his "Out of Context - For Pina."

That would be Pina Bausch, the renowned German choreographer who died in June 2009.

"Pina saw Alain as a like-minded artist and one of the foremost representatives of the next generation of dance-makers in Europe who inherited her ideas and added new dimensions of their own," explained Charles R. Helm, the Wexner's director of performing arts.

Like Bausch, Platel often dwells on what Helm calls "the all-pervasive state of accelerated anxiety in society today." Building his choreographic vocabulary from the fascinating movements of special-needs children he once worked with, Platel coupled it with pianist Glenn Gould's famously idiosyncratic interpretation of Bach's "Goldberg Variations."

Gould's eccentricity and single-mindedness was "a touchstone" for Platel. "The element of joy [in "Context"] comes from the transcendent rapture that [Gould] achieved in his artistry," Helm said.

That joy, apparent in Bausch's later work, is also reflected in some of the playful juxtapositions of music and movement in "Context."

"The off-kilter action has genuinely humorous moments," Helm said, "but it also creates points of tension where audiences wonder if this is something to laugh about or not."

Judging from Platel's earlier work, we can expect laughter and tears.

Les Ballets C de la B

8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8

Wexner Center

1849 Cannon Dr., Campus