I didn’t really know what to expect from Danish Dance Theatre’s Black Diamond. In particular, I didn’t know how I would feel about a two-act non-narrative (or, as it turns out, weak narrative) work. I was pleasantly surprised at how consistent the tone was (despite some disjointness) and how much I enjoyed the work.
The one character who was spread through the whole work was the lead man, danced by Luca Marazia. Other characters appeared and left. The work started with a woman and man in a fairly androgynous pas de deux. This would have been better if the dancers movements had been equally precise; he moved more sharply than she did. From there, glittery black confetti/”snow” fell, and men in trench coats came out and used floorwork to good effect in spreading the confetti around.
This was followed by a pas de trois of two men and one woman. (More men later joined.) This was executed well, but it was far more traditional than I expected; it felt the men were really handling the woman.
The most memorable part of the rest of the first act was a pas de deux lit in gold with very angular, clean movement. The music banged and binged and sounded like metal in ways that I really disliked, but choreographically this was one of the strongest parts of the act. Throughout the act, some of the movement was very spastic, but the dancers were good at controlling it and keeping it isolated to particular parts of the body. The most powerful pieces of choreography were those where all the dancers were on stage in a formation, moving in unison.
Act II was far more fluid overall. It also contained the most narrative part of the ballet. Two “dolls” in full bodysuits moved very mechanically but throughout the act became more natural and near the end, successfully hugged each other. Marazia’s character also appeared to be searching for something and constantly encountering a woman, and a crystal that appeared at the end of the second act was passed among different hands; people seemed to be in a low-key fight for it. The piece ended the woman “doll” fully disrobing and walking slowly forward.
Milou Nuyens was the female soloist in the second act, and she had very strong stage presence and beautiful movement. The second act started with a pas between Marazia and Nuyens, during which Marazia never left the floor. It was very creative both as floor work and as a pas, and it was nice to see a woman really leading a pas, especially after the earlier pas de trois.
Throughout the performance, the lighting and music were well-matched; they changed in tone together. The backdrop was a bit odd but appropriate (looked like black pyramids in the first act, more white/silver in the second act). The costumes, on the other hand, were all over the place, and there were too many of them. Several felt gimmicky, and one set looked like they were made out of plastic bags.
Overall, there were a lot of gimmicks, and while one or two could have been interesting, the number just made the work (particularly the first act) disjointed. There was the crystal, the glittery “snow,” the two doll-like people in bodysuits, the dragging on capes, the trenchcoats. Many of those reappeared or “resolved” in some sense in the last scene when all the characters came back, but it didn’t really tie everything together. However, much of the choreography was interesting, and the dancers executed it well.