Leine and Roebana

Submitted by Susan Miller on Thu, 04/10/2008 - 07:43.
05/10/2008 - 20:00
05/10/2008 - 22:00

Dance that will engage the visual arts community and the new music community.

Andrea Leine and Harijono Roebana from the Netherlands will present Sporen (it seems). Pure dance. How refreshing! Visit their website to catch a glimpse.

Tickets range from $15-$40 and can be purcahsed online at the link "dance" above or by calling or visiting the Playhouse Square Box Office. Presented by DanceCleveland - part of a series titled The Icons + The Innovators. These would be the innovators... when does one transition I wonder? Are they mutually exclusive?


Ohio Theater
1375 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH
United States
( categories: )


I learned a new concept this week from the fabulous Debbie Clement.  VAK  = learning styles.
Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic
...Do we destroy potential and sedate our best and brightest minds?

How many kids slip through the cracks, because their kinesthetic needs are subdued with drugs and misdiagnosed as ADD?

if you understand this, you will know me better

This is how I see the world, Laura. I learn through movement and sound and sight. Numbers - formulas are lost on me, but geometry fascinates me. Words penetrate my gut, sounds make me shiver. I am not alone. No one in my youth ever taught me in these ways consciously, but I learned them in ballet class and while walking in the woods and swimming in the bayou, riding fast on my bicycle. The one thing I would always say to people who said they didin't "get" dance was, "how can you not get it? It is communication body to body. We all have them, you just have to let yours in." "Well mine is not perfect like hers or his", they would say referring to some superhuman dancer. Then I would quote Leonard Cohen, "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in..."

It's like acid meets smart mob and science

Just yesterday, on The Institute for the Future's blog: Protein Synthesis Visualization through Interpretive Dance. (Warning: 1970's cheesy.)

Leine and Roebana dancers ignite the Ohio Theatre stage

Last night I was witness to 70 minutes of blisteringly good dancing. Sporen (Traces) choreographed by Andrea Leine and Harijono Roebana had the audience on the edge of our seats. I stifled sighs and squeals of delight over the course of the evening. No narrative was there to be found except the narrative of life, of the body. Messy yet exactingly formal, overlapping sometimes solitary sometimes in duos or trios, the dancers built a city of movement. They devised tall buildings and small busy districts, wide boulevards and narrow winding side streets crowded with movement.

As the audience took their seats, dancers began to come onto the stage and take their places. They gazed at the audience and my guest and I knew the work had begun; it had snuck up on others who were still socializing in the aisles. Stage lights and house lights were up. I thought we were about to witness a first as the houselights dimmed- a concert at the Ohio Theatre without the gratuitous curtain speech - you know the one that reads sections of the playbill to you like which foundations gave money and please buy tickets, thank you for coming, turn off your cell phones. I thought, "Wow, we've really moved ahead here in Cleveland toward a sophistication usually reserved for the coasts. But no, even after the dance seemed to have begun, the presenter did indeed come out onto the stage and give the speech with the dancers waiting politely upstage of her. She mentioned that there would be loud bursts of music during the piece - a warning. Oh thank you, I thought. (It reminded me of the time Philip Glass played at the Cleveland Museum of Art music series. Now if you have not heard Glass live you may not know that it is LOUD. 1/3 the audience left.) Contemporary music can be loud and soft and yes, you might not know what is coming when. I prefer this mystery.

But soon the inane opening faded, and the work got underway opening with a beautiful duet with dancer and singer. The two shared an intimacy without touching; it was an intimacy of the voice and the dancer's movements which glide and slip, support and stretch the sorrowful 16th century song. Then the scene was blasted with a mini entre’ act; the stage went black and a blast of sound accompanied a dancer making a pass across the lit downstage edge. Similar entre’ acts repeated throughout the piece - never the same movement, but in the same area of the stage and likewise with some raucously different music. Used similarly to divide the work - the light went to silhouette often accompanied with a blast of sound. At one point there was a snippet of country music that seemed to have wandered in via some CB radio signal.  In between these “columns”, we saw an amazing array of dancing – quiet, slow, fast, wrenching, swirling - every effort, initiated from every point in the dancer’s body, followed through then abruptly interrupted. After a while I began to feel that this was not unlike a journey through a city – perhaps it was a city unto itself - a city of movement.

How wonderful it is to be engaged as a viewer, to just enjoy the amazing talent of the dancers and the rich choreographic feast that was laid before us. This was the kind of feast that could take days to consume, but it was compacted into a little over an hour. We did not tire in this time.

I promised myself that I would not use simile, and as I write, I am realizing that this work defies that possibility outright. It is not “like” Merce Cunningham’s work based solely on chance – the architectural elements are too apparent though one can imagine that chance has had much to do with the choreographer’s process. It is not “like” most classical ballet at all – it has no literal “story/narrative’, musicians are involved in the dance not just playing their instruments (Piano/ Viola da Gamba/Voice). It is not dramatic like the works of Graham or Humphrey or Weidman. The time is not one time, but many, as the scores stretch from 16th century songs by J. Dowland, William Byrd and Henry Purcell to the sounds of Pierre Boulez and music composed for the work by Yannis Kyriakides, Martijn Padding and Han Otten and Wiebe de Boer/SoundPalette.

I had the sense of a city block with a high-rise building or a small village with many different stories and people all doing various things over a vast stretch of time all collaged into one 70 minute widely varying sound and movement assemblage. Some conversations and time periods overlapped; one voice or several spoke for a period, still figures accompanied songs and movement. One such striking stillness resembled a work of classical sculpture – resting her weight in one hip; she pointed strongly with one hand upraised as if to banish - her head dropped back, eyes gazing upward dramatically some edict having escaped her lips. We were transported through time. A section with rippling spines felt like the timeless oceans. Movement flowed and then suddenly shifted, transforming the body taking on an entirely different effort.

It was 70 minutes of staring into the Aleph. (“an Aleph is one of the points in space that contains all other points”) So to describe to you what I saw last evening in addition to total unadulterated commitment and complete embodiment on the part of the dancers, I give you this quote from Jorges Luis Borges’ story, The Aleph: “The Aleph's diameter was probably little more than an inch, but all space was there, actual and undiminished. Each thing (a mirror's face, let us say) was infinite things, since I distinctly saw it from every angle of the universe. I saw the teeming sea; I saw daybreak and nightfall; I saw the multitudes of America; I saw a silvery cobweb in the center of a black pyramid; I saw a splintered labyrinth (it was London); I saw, close up, unending eyes watching themselves in me as in a mirror; I saw all the mirrors on earth and none of them reflected me; I saw in a backyard of Soler Street the same tiles that thirty years before I'd seen in the entrance of a house in Fray Bentos; I saw bunches of grapes, snow, tobacco, lodes of metal, steam; I saw convex equatorial deserts and each one of their grains of sand; I saw a woman in Inverness whom I shall never forget; I saw her tangled hair, her tall figure, I saw the cancer in her breast; I saw a ring of baked mud in a sidewalk, where before there had been a tree; I saw a summer house in Adrogué and a copy of the first English translation of Pliny -- Philemon Holland's -- and all at the same time saw each letter on each page (as a boy, I used to marvel that the letters in a closed book did not get scrambled and lost overnight); I saw a sunset in Querétaro that seemed to reflect the colour of a rose in Bengal; I saw my empty bedroom; I saw in a closet in Alkmaar a terrestrial globe between two mirrors that multiplied it endlessly; I saw horses with flowing manes on a shore of the Caspian Sea at dawn; I saw the delicate bone structure of a hand; I saw the survivors of a battle sending out picture postcards; I saw in a showcase in Mirzapur a pack of Spanish playing cards; I saw the slanting shadows of ferns on a greenhouse floor; I saw tigers, pistons, bison, tides, and armies; I saw all the ants on the planet; I saw a Persian astrolabe; I saw in the drawer of a writing table (and the handwriting made me tremble) unbelievable, obscene, detailed letters, which Beatriz had written to Carlos Argentino; I saw a monument I worshipped in the Chacarita cemetery; I saw the rotted dust and bones that had once deliciously been Beatriz Viterbo; I saw the circulation of my own dark blood; I saw the coupling of love and the modification of death; I saw the Aleph from every point and angle, and in the Aleph I saw the earth and in the earth the Aleph and in the Aleph the earth; I saw my own face and my own bowels; I saw your face; and I felt dizzy and wept, for my eyes had seen that secret and conjectured object whose name is common to all men but which no man has looked upon -- the unimaginable universe. I felt infinite wonder, infinite pity.”

Leine and Roebana have given us an Aleph embodied.

Let us please continue on this trend Dancecleveland. It was marvelous!

Notes in closing – or four requests:

For the choreographers: Please include the titles of the musical works so that one might study them further. Please credit the set and lighting.

For the presenters: You have printed and thanked the funders in the playbill – and let us read it. Dispense with redundant curtain speech. During the Question Answer period though it is nice to have the moderator “repeat the questions” it is annoying to have one’s question reinterpreted by the moderator. Another microphone in the house would be more respectful of the questioner.

lowland architechnique

I really enjoyed Leine & Roebana's work, too, (and though I don't know enough to make good comparisons or appraisals,) I thought they struck really nice balances between classical & new, and refined & pedestrian.

I liked that the whole show flowed -- how solos, duets, and groupwork wove into and out of each other; pieces/thoughts separate but linked.

Loved the music ~ an impossible balance between baroque (renaissance?), contemporary, and new electronic (in multi-channel!) made exactly ~ except when the americana came out of nowhere I almost choked. (If the presenter had to warn about anything -- I was annoyed, too, that she had to come out and insult us -- it should've been that!)

Anything worth relating from the talkback afterward?
Did you ask anything (and was it your question that was reinterpreted?)

Leine and Roebana afterword


The talkbacks are usually interesting so I stay. Whoda thunk!?! Dancers and some choreographers are articulate! Usually it's the dancers because the choreographers are so stubborn insisting it's all there in the movement and if you could see through my eyes and my body - you'd get it. (I ranted about as much on Downtown Dancer, a NY dance and bitch blog several years ago.) Dear Choreographers - you got some 'splainin' to do. .... Ricky Ricardo

Maura Keefe said she would repeat the questions, but instead she reinterpreted each and every one. I sort of wanted to stand up and quote TS Eliot's Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock - "That is not what I meant at all. That is not it at all." It demeans the intelligence of the questioner. Even if she had "come down" off the stage and brought the microphone to each questioner we might have had a more "authentic" and intimate discussion. In fact, we were having one, though she inserted herself like a diaphragm in the process.

My question - about the music: They said they were going not for literal meaning. So, I asked about the sections of music that had lyrics/words which are literal. If you use words what impact do they have if they are indeed understood? They said they were using the music for its sound and less for its words. I do understand though I have worked with many choreographers who did the same and only later realized that the words (which they had not taken to time to research) and their meaning was so deeply intertwined with the instrumental aspects of the score that the "meaning" was inescapable. They had in fact choreographed the "meaning" without knowing it. I appreciate that they did not want to "lead" the audience to make some sort of sense from lyrics printed in the program, but to at least have the titles of the works would allow us to find out later what might have been a composer's point of departure back in the day.

Ah... just in - the music from Sporen:
Sporen Leine & Roebana MUSIC

  • J. Zorn, Hammerhead
  • H. Purcell, O Solitude  (Musicians: Joe Schlesinger, Yvanka Neeleman, Freek Borstlap)
  • J. Zorn, Cairo Chop Shop
  • Y. Kyriakides, (Cantus Firmus, 2000)  (specially composed for Leine & Roebana)
  • W. Byrd, 1st Pavane (musician: Reinier van Houdt)
  • M. Padding (Sulphur, 2001) (specially composed for Leine & Roebana)
  • J. Zorn, Hammerhead
  • W. Byrd, 1st Pavane, Galliard (mus.: Reinier van Houdt)
  • P. Boulez, Notations (mus.: Reinier van Houdt)
  • J. Palinckx, Is that all there is
  • C. Simpson, Divisions in a. (mus.: Yvanka Neeleman, Freek Borstlap)
  • K.F. Abel, Prelude in d. (mus.: Yvanka Neeleman, Freek Borstlap)
  • J. Dowland, Sorrow Stay (mus.: Joe Schlesinger, Yvanka Neeleman, Freek Borstlap)
  • J. Zorn, Cairo Chop Shop
  • Soundpalette, Han Otten , Wiebe de Boer (If we could only even if we could, 1995) (specially composed for Leine & Roebana)
  • J. Zorn

John Zorn? I thought that might have been John Zorn! Who would know that there might be music lovers in the audience?  I'll write back and share a story about an earlier Dancecleveland event and music connection later - it's a doozy and had amazing results. History... Can we access those archives and learn from it? Maybe not.

Now we can learn more about the fabulous score. There was so much amazing music that I would love to listen to again. The Leine and Roebana website promises that someday the full version of Sporen will be online for us to revisit. I'll check back to see when it goes up. This company and dance - a keeper.

I think that in this day and age of interactive learning, the arts have a lot to gain from expanding the telescopic nature of their work - letting us in and letting us dig deeper, return to the gallery or theater, etc. It may take the arts more time. (CityMusic, by the way is doing a splendid job. Their program notes are superb, and they even give directions for restaurants near by the concert locations. Clurie and Eugenia surely understand what makes a rich cultural experience.)

I wonder how many Dancecleveland events have been reviewed in this way, interactively. If you know others who attended please share the link and ask them to add their thoughts here. The arts are meant to be shared and remembered. Now that the "talkback" is over, let's keep the conversation going.