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Although these fertility dances may appear simple to the onlooker, they require a good deal of training and skill. Both the men and the women performers practice their steps nearly every afternoon for weeks on end prior to the performance, in the effort to improve their body and leg movements, and to create new motifs, and simply for the love of dancing. The drummers and singers rehearse, too, as participants in the dance proper, standing to the side of the dancers to reinforce, with their drums or song, the mood of the moment. Dances in the Trobriand islands also have an educational function, since they transmit the myths and legends of a people via an entire figurative language consisting of gestures, footwork, movement, music, decoration, color, design, and costume. Conveying humankind's relationship to Nature, the dances run the gamut of all the emotions-from deep joy to terror-and in doing so, turning a collective event into a personal living experience. Berenice Jean Racine Directed by Klaus Michael GrUber The Comedie Francaise (Paris) Rosette Lamont The greatest succes d'estime of the 1984-85 season was a Berenice directed in the purest classical tradition by a German guest director, Klaus Michael Griiber. He is accused by the dissenters of being plus royaliste que le roi in his recreation of the seventeenth century manner of recitation. Bare, austere, denuded of any kind of gesturing, of impassioned discourse, Gruber's B6renice is centered not on acting the text but on forcing the listener's attention. In this era of speed reading, it is cleansing to be reminded that a magnificent literary work requires a special kind of concentration stemming from the focus of the listener's imaginative faculties and a nourishing kind of respect. Language, Jean-Pierre Vincent, the new director of the Comedie Francaise states, is the commonplace, not in the demeaned sense of "trite," but in its aspect as the locus where things and words are possessed in common, shared; where things and events are held and held up to attention by words. Should this be regarded as regression? GrUber and Vincent seem to feel that much has been lost by the contemporary "transgressions" of the text, the inventive re-readings and re-interpretations which at times are acts of betrayal. But perhaps the most serious mistake is the opposition created 64 BERENICE between classicism and the avant-garde. Gruber's Bdrdnice requires of the audience the same kind of attention it is willing to pay to some of the more subtle and complex works of Beckett, Footfalls, That Time, Rockaby, Not /. In this production the lines are spoken with quiet deliberation. Racine's poetry fills the space of the stage left bare. Not everyone of the actors is able to fulfill this noble exigency. Ludmila Mikael (Bgr6nice), Catherine Samie (Phenice), Marcel Bozonnet (Antiochus), Roland Bertin (Arsace) are splendid. Richard Fontana's Titus, however, lacks the required moral and political stature. Despite the imbalance, this is a very interesting effort, a relief from the badly modernized versions presented for so many years at the "home of Moliere." 65 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 64-65
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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