Go See ROCCO- One More Show of a Cinematic Masterwork

Sat, 04/12/2014 – 10:40am |  Walter Jaffe

Our 16th season is almost over, and with tonight’s performance of ROCCO, we will be concluding our 14th Uncaged season. We used to call this the White Bird/PSU Dance Series until we lost Lincoln Hall for two years and went roaming in different spaces. That was a transformative experience for us and we realized that by renaming our series Uncaged, we were speaking not only about the new adaptable spaces but the adventurous dance work we and our audiences were excited about.
I’ve not had an opportunity to write too much this season about our shows, but I’m compelled to say something about ROCCO because we have the U.S. premiere at the Newmark Theatre (in downtown Portland), and I believe that this is one of the most unusual and compelling works we have presented in Uncaged –not to mention in White Bird’s history.
Before I became interested in dance, I fell in love with film. I still love film, and although Paul and I don’t have much of an opportunity to go to the movies as we did pre-White Bird, I still try to see as much as I can. ROCCO, by Dutch choreographers Emio Greco and Pieter Scholten, is based on Luchino Visconti’s 1960  Rocco and His Brothers, a film that I’ve loved since Paul and I saw it in a restored version at the NY Film Festival back in the early 1990’s. Bill Foster and the NW Film Center kindly offered to screen this film last Sunday, and it’s in stunning black and white, with a powerful score by Nino Rota (pre-Godfather). Thank you Bill!


Rocco and His Brothers image, with Alain Delon and Renato Salvatori (1960), Luchino Visconti Director


The performances of ROCCO of the past two nights have been among the strongest I’ve seen in my many years of viewing and appreciating dance. The connection to the film lies in the cinematic approach to the work, set in a boxing ring onstage at the Newmark. At the sound of the bell, each scene transforms itself through lighting, sound score, mood and above all, through the four astounding guys. I need to name them because they are so strong and magnetic—and put themselves through the wringer for the 60 minutes of the show: Derrick Cayla, Quentin Dehaye, Christian  Gueramatchi, and Arnaud Macquet.
Paul and I sit through every one of our dance performances, and we’re happy to do that. With ROCCO, I cannot wait to return this evening for the final performance to appreciate the complex components of the piece. I sat in the auditorium on opening, on stage last night, and will be back in the auditorium tonight.  Certainly I loved sitting on stage to witness the muscles and facial expressions of the dancers.


Photo by Laurent Ziegler

From far back in the theater, you can appreciate the cinematic qualities of the work—the ever changing lighting, the unexpected and surprising moments, the expansion of the stage from compressed focused movement to the broad canvas of the ring, watching the expressions of the mesmerized audience on stage.
I can’t say enough to praise Emio, Pieter and the 4 guys.
It’s not too late—we still have tickets for tonight. I know there’s a lot going on these nights in Portland.If you have some time this evening, go see ROCCO! You will remember it for a long time.

Go See ROCCO- One More Show of a Cinematic Masterwork