Блогът на Мартин Осиковски

13 април 2009

Пак недооценени :(

All Bulgaria, All the Time, Is One Troupe’s Watchword

(The New Yrok Times, 12.04.2009)

Fifteen years after Michael Flatley and company burst onto the international stage at the Eurovision Song Contest, Bulgaria’s answer to “Riverdance,” has reached American shores.

I am happy to report that “This Is Bulgaria,” which had a one-night stand at Symphony Space on Saturday, has considerably fewer steam machines than its Irish counterpart. Other aspects, less happily, are similar: the ridiculously simplistic and glorified historical glosses, the pasted-on smiles, the overamplified music. Bulgare may be a folk dance troupe, but this is the spectacle-over-artistry approach.

As the sold-out, heavily Bulgarian crowd filtered in, ushers urged people to have their “TV faces” on for the film crew in attendance. An ominous sign. The production’s intentions were confirmed by the choice of narrator: Terry Madison, a perky television producer who has lived in Bulgaria for 17 years, she informed the audience, and hopes to die there as well.

Ms. Madison’s voice-over, which ran the gamut from sentimental to asinine, accompanied filmed segments depicting Bulgarian regions and specialties, including its native rhythms and bacteria. The rhythms, we learn, are a gift from God. (No word on the bacteria’s origin.)

Complex and richly varied, those rhythms are indeed wondrous, as are the stamping line and circle dances, in which the performers, dressed in traditional, colorfully embroidered costumes, hook on to each other’s belts and wend their way across the stage like one giant organism. Just ask Mark Morris: he studied Bulgarian dance when young, and it continues to influence his choreography.

Unfortunately “This Is Bulgaria” does not bring to the fore the exciting earthiness and communal joy of its dances as much as it might, relying instead on canned responses to canned music.

Two exceptions showed just how much we missed: a delightfully mischievous interlude by the multi-instrumentalist Veselin Kuzmov, and a solo turn by Bulgare’s producer, director and choreographer, Hristo Dimitrov, whose zestful, voluptuous phrasing was rooted deep in his body. Here, at last, was a Bulgaria worthy of all the show’s hype. If only we had seen more of it.

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