Chere Amour Compagnie Kelemenis City Hall Theatre May 19 Five men play one man in love with a woman. That was the message of the programme notes for Chere Amour, a dance quintet for male dancers by Compagnie Kelemenis as part of Le French May.
The choreography seemed to have a different story, however. The woman if she existed at all (seen fleetingly in the photographs that made up the backdrop of the stage, or mentioned as a remote figure in a diary read in French over the speakers) was a glimpsed dream figure, representing a classical ideal of love rather than anyone real.
The love and the passion was all on stage, enacted between the five men, who created tender, beautiful shapes of longing between each other that could not be entirely attributed to narcissism.
In the beginning the five danced without music and without much interaction: a difficult call on dancers and audience, before the story or dancers had a chance to touch us or awaken our sympathies.
Choreographer Michel Kelemenis captured beautifully the indolence of a European summer's day, lying in fields with bees and crickets, thinking about absent lovers. And the thunderstorm tension between the remembered luxury of those languid afternoons and the potential boredom of them, the 'exquisite banality' of living and remembering.
The dancers stretched and exercised, danced to an imagined ghetto blaster, fought, chased, carried: lovingly depicting the movement and yearnings of young men at the peak of physical health and not sure what to do with their energies. One interesting moment saw Bertrand Lombard in 1920s-style purple swimming costume, his back to the audience: with his long blond hair in a pony-tail he could be the gender-ambiguous object of many dreams.
This was a thoroughly modern choreography, yet, particularly when the soundscape gave us Cecilia Bartoli singing songs of love by Vivaldi and Scarlatti, it also reminded us poignantly of the baroque formality of love, dance and music.