Go Deeper

Angel of Death in Ottawa

Posted April 11th, 2008

Nick traveled to Ottawa last weekend to see Belgian choreographer Jan Fabre’s Angel of Death, a performance piece that uses a combination of high conceptual complexity and sophisticated media to create a haunting glimpse of the artist’s psyche. Audience members sit on pillows, forming a semi-circle around a small platform where Ivana Jozic, Croatian dancer and protégé of Jan Fabre, performs throughout the forty-minute show. Jozic is an extraordinary performer—a great dancer, and a great actor with an immense stage presence. Her movement is explosive and frenetic, sending her sweat flying through the air. A pair of gargantuan screens loom behind her, where footage of the legendary choreographer and dancer William Forsythe is projected. Forsythe jumps and the film catches him in mid air, he descends in slow motion, so that we can watch every subtle muscular transition until he returns to ground. Ivana emulates his movement with fervid zeal. The contrast between Ivana, who is so alive and so real, and Forsythe, who here is seen as this two-dimensional, larger-than-life force, is overwhelming.

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This message was originally posted on 3/14/08.After the performance, Ivana explained to Nick that the piece began as an art installation that featured only Forsythe. Ivana was introduced in a later iteration. Her work in Angel of Death has strongly influenced Fabre’s new work (still in progress), which will make its U.S. premiere at the Festival this year. Entitled Another Sleepy Dusty Delta Day, the piece is inspired by Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe,” invoking themes of love, suicide, and the erotic body. This May, Nick will travel to Antwerp to watch a rehearsal of the work at Fabre’s studio. Stay tuned for a full report from Nick’s trip.