Just before the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze closed, due to the global pandemic, I was lucky to be able to watch two evenings of Creations, produced by the second year Master students and the third year Bachelor students.
My training in Dalcroze Eurhythmics included creating and performing in, what is known as, plastique animée, a term which was invented by Jaques-Dalcroze. When creating a plastique one strives to show elements of the music through one’s movement. It is not just the rhythms that are made clear but the melody, harmony, dynamics, form and so on. It is a visual analysis of the music in which the body is the vehicle.
The Bachelor and Masters students study plastique animée but their group performances are not strictly plastiques but something arguably more theatrical and certainly ambitious in scope. The Creations are assessed on not just the movement quality and inventiveness but on the costumes, lighting, staging and if vocal sections are included, the standard of singing. Though the movement in the creations is influenced by plastique the result is invariably a multi-medium presentation.
Although the Creations were performed over five months ago, some performances really stood out. The Master students’ Creations were often conceived from personal experience. For example, one was a movement depiction of the Australian landscape and included some beautiful costumes which shimmered with the colours of the landscapes shown on screen. The piece also included some evocative music by Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe and a haunting song by another Australian composer. Another Creation used long turquoise scarves to great affect and included folk songs and another Creation featured an image of a tree that gradually grew as the performance progressed and also featured folk dances as well as musicians spaced around the concert hall.
The Bachelor students’ Creations were equally impressive. Each one was performed to one of Berio’s Sequenzas and two performances stood out for me. One used lights suspended from the ceiling which could be manipulated by the dancers. The lights could swing forwards and backwards, from side to side or even in circles. The performers moved in concert with the lights, which could also be switched on and off, in many different ways. Perhaps my favourite performance used Berio’s Sequenza for female voice. The Creation explored the relationship between man and woman and had elements of Pina Bausch in the choice of movements.
The performances of the Bachelor Creations took place just one week before the Institute was closed due to Covid-19. Switzerland has come out of lockdown and small groups can now be taught. However, while social distancing remains in place, the Creations of the future will be quite different. I’m sure, however, they will continue to be as creative and impressive as those I was lucky enough to see.