Hitchcock on the dance floor: ‘Minutes opportunes’ by Compagnie Michèle Noiret

Choreographer? Hell of a job. All these choices you have to make. Am I going to tell a story or not? Do I keep my choreography really abstract or do I want those moves to mean anything as well? A decor and some props maybe or just that floor to dance on and nothing else? Music with a melody or rather a sound scape? That’s what I was thinking as Minutes opportunes, the new performance by Belgian choreographer Michèle Noiret was unfolding, at Théâtre National, Brussels. Some viewers will be happy with it, because Minutes opportunes has a bit of everything. In my view all those shifts led to an unbalanced performance that felt as if it was made by too many different choreographers.

A table, a telephone, a lamp and a parrot in a cage. And suddenly there’s a dead body on the floor too. Minutes opportunes starts off as a Hitchcock movie. And it will be returning to that Hitchcock suspense again and again. The four dancers hurriedly appear and disappear, through that one door on stage. They come and they go. What’s in that brown suitcase? What are they hiding? Who are they on the run for?

These scenes alternate with parts that aren’t trying to say anything at all; just pure contemporary choreography. The music shifts from one style to the other and back as well. Sometimes you get Bach or some film noir music, then more of a sound scape (with sound effects as the dancers hit the wall in that one corner on stage).

It’s all meant to be this way. With Minutes opportunes Michèle Noiret wanted to focus on time and those moments that can change the course of a life. ‘A dazzling instant when there is a break with the past and the future begins to take shape. An opportune moment when destiny appears to meddle with our lives.’  And so those four dancers have meetings and relations (complicity, suspicion, tenderness, rejection), but at other moments they appear to free themselves from the machinations in which they seem to be playthings.

I get what Noiret is trying to convey. But too many of those parts were lacking that little bit extra. Minutes opportunes certainly has it beautiful moments (the scene in which the other dancers are moving Igor Shyshko’s  limbs as if he were a puppet, and the furniture, for instance), but as a whole it failed to impress me. Too many shifts, too many weak moments and a performance going in too many different directions.

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