Dance Preview: Rosas – A Love Supreme on October 3
John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme is one of the few pieces of art I can think of that are undisputed masterpieces. I’ve known people who have literally no other jazz records who treasure those four movements. Even people with just a passing familiarity with jazz recognize those first notes immediately – most of us can sing Jimmy Garrison’s bourbon-rich bass line.
Not just one of the signature documents of jazz, A Love Supremeis one of the quintessential artifacts of American art. In testimony to its enduring power, artists still grapple with this monument today. One of the most intriguing interpretations of A Love Supreme in recent years comes from Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s dance company Rosas. The Wexner Center for the Arts brings this contemporary dance imagining to the Riffe Center’s Davidson Theater on October 3 for a sure-thing highlight of their 2017-18 season.
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker collaborated with Salva Sanchis on the choreography for this piece. A Love Supreme reaches Columbus on a very limited US tour, days after its NYC premiere. Previewing the New York Live Arts run, the New York Times said, “Ecstatic. Freewheeling. Improvisatory.”
The choreographers gave an interview to Wannes Gyselinck on the premiere of this work in Europe. In it, De Keersmaeker said, “To me A Love Supreme is essentially a piece about defying gravity. It is a piece about the relationship between mankind and the planet, between the vertical and the horizontal. That’s what having a spine allows us to do as human, of course: to organise our centre of gravity to render it perpendicular to the earth’s surface. It allows us to move away from the gravitational energy exerted by the earth with maximum efficiency. There is an ambiguity in that which is also contained in Coltrane’s music. It reaches to the heavens in homage to the divine, but reaching to the heavens also implies an aspiration for boundlessness, for flying; that is: suspending gravity. It involves an element of hubris, which probably makes it all the more human.”
A Love Supreme is scored for four dancers, each embodying one of the instruments playing the suite (the original recording is played as the score). In describing the use of improvisation, Salva Sanchis said something that comes closer than I’ve ever seen to describing improvisation at its highest levels, something that could as easily be said for the Coltrane Quartet: “I want to improvise such that you believe everything I do is the only possible thing I could do. And that I did it exactly the way I wanted to. I don’t want you to see that I’m searching, that I’m still figuring out what to do myself at that very moment. Thus I want to make my improvisation look as clear and as precise as possible, as determined as can be.”
Art, especially dance, can be seen as an attempt to defy the imperfections and limitations of the body even while acknowledging and reveling in them. It’s the way we learn to view the world and the way we try to remember we can fly. I can’t think of a better example of this – and I say that looking down a long list of things I expect to be spectacular this fall – than A Love Supreme by Rosas, presented by the Wexner Center.
A Love Supreme will be performed at 8:00 pm on October 3. For tickets and more info, visit wexarts.org/performing-arts/rosas-love-supreme.