Faunus or Talaga's Natural Impression
Only a week before Christmas, rather discreetly and without much promotion, the dancer and choreographer Martin Talaga premiered his miniature choreography Faunus. The National Gallery provided performance space, the piece thus took place in the Small Hall of the Trade Fair Palace and entry was free of charge. Last season, Talaga caught the eye of the public and critics along with his project Soma which was also created in a gallery space and since its premiere in June 2017 it has been performed at many venues, with different casts and in various forms. The new production has naturally raised many expectations and the conditions seemed to be more than favourable. That is why I was surprised so few people came to the National Gallery on that Wednesday evening.
All those who preferred Christmas parties or shopping for Christmas presents, could only feel sorry for not taking a break - Faunus helped overcome everyday stress and slow down the hectic tempo. It carried you away to an imaginary forest where dawdling and lolling is perfectly okay. Martin Talaga describes his work as an impression on the theme of simple pleasures in life. As the embodiment of his theme, he has chosen the figure of Faun and opted for the famous symphonic poem L’après-midi d’un faun by Claude Debussy which had also inspired Vaclav Nijinsky’s original 1912 choreography. Talaga combined the symphonic poem with another composition of Debussy’s, the piano piece La Rêverie, bringing about a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere from the very beginning.
The Slovak dancer worked loosely with Nijinsky’s iconic version which he reminds through movement and visual references and the general storyline. However, his Faun is not an Antique-style recreation of the mythological creature. Completely naked and smeared with dirt, he looked more like a forest animal, sleeping in a tree trunk, and resting on a bank. Necessary to point out that Talaga’s animalistic expression was really convincing.
His face mirrored animal-like innocence of a mute creature. With soft and supple moves, he was crossing the space, walking between branches and the tree trunk that gave him shelter at the very beginning of the performance. Any costume would seem redundant. After all, the instinctively wild thrusts and noises he culminated his performance with, meant a natural climax to his vision of Faun’s afternoon. At that moment the only prop appeared - the nymph’s scarf was replaced by high-heeled black boots, allusion to the modern civilisation.
Faunus fits into the minimalist space of the gallery, though it contains much more dancing than other multi-media movement installations presented in showrooms or theatres. The court-métrage format of this impressionist miniature also seems appropriate, as the length hardly exceeds thirty minutes. The piece has such a strong potential, you can’t resist the urge to see it reworked as a full-length performance in a theatre space where it would be possible to play with lighting design and scenography. The author’s plans and intentions remain unknown, however, whatever form it takes (minimalist or more generous format), Faunus is worth seeing!
Written from the premiere held on 19 December 2018 in the Small Hall of the Trade Fair Palace, National Gallery Prague.
Choreography and interpretation: Martin Talaga
Music: Claude Debussy
Lights: David Prokopič
Premiere: 19 December 2018