Dancing to Fado

David Roussève’s new work, Saudade, is grounded in Portugal’s most vital musical form, fado, which expresses the sadness of longing and heartbreak and the deep joy of memory and hope. Equal parts theater, autobiography, and dance, Saudade brings together eight international performers who, despite their classical training in the likes of Indonesian and West African dance, find common ground in the highly expressive, haunting, tremulous refrains of fado. Between movements, Roussève shares narratives as simple as discovering love through an alley cat and as complex as the fragments of memory held by a woman who lost her husband while struggling to save her children during Hurricane Katrina. At the heart of the work is the tale of a slave girl who learns, in the same moment, the depths of love and heights of depravity when her master discovers she has learned to write. While the hyperemotional acting styles of the dancers may occasionally veer from the restrained, resigned subtlety of the best of fado, the exploration is a worthy endeavor, and there are few figures in postmodern dance more up to the task than Roussève.
March 5-7, 8 p.m., 2009
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