ANNADALE—Compagnie fetes galantes opened the 9th annual Bard SummerScape last weekend with an hour-long dance titled “Let My Joy Remain.”
“Fete galante,” according to the National Gallery, is a French term that describes a type of 18th-century painting that shows groups of elegantly dressed men and women, often in a park-like setting, engaged in “decorously amorous play.”
The handsome young company of 11 dancers, in the park-like setting of Bard College, began their piece in the sort of dancer’s frock coat and buckled shoes associated with the 18th century. They danced to J.S. Bach (1685-1750), beginning with a gorgeous duo cantata, and moving on to the second, third and sixth Brandenburg Concertos.
If this opener is any example, this year’s SummerScape will offer programs that are limber and joyous. The festival will honor history—Compagnie fetes galantes draws its inspiration from Baroque dance—and celebrate the contemporary—by the end of the piece the dancers had thrown off their frock coats and were leaping and running around in tank tops. The festival will imbue audience members with its energy, leaving them smiling, making eye contact with one another as they depart, talking about the performance.
SummerScape makes a French connection this year as the Bard Music Festival (August 10-12 and 17-19) takes as its subject Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) and his world.
Opening Friday, July 13, and running for 10 performances through July 22, is Moliere’s “The Imaginary Invalid,” in which the French satirist takes on the medical profession. SummerScape’s all-male production features Peter Dinkelage, whom moviegoers may remember from “The Station Master,” and others, more current, know from HBO’s “The Game of Thrones.”
This year’s SummerScape opera is comic: Emmanuel Chabrier’s “The King in Spite of Himself,” in which a 16th-century French noble is chosen as king of Poland. He finds he doesn’t even like Poland and tries to eschew the crown, but, it’s complicated. The opera opens July 27 and runs for four additional performances, through August 5.
France and the Colonial Imagination is the theme of this year’s SummerScape Film Festival, which begins July 12 with “Morocco” (Marlene Dietrich is torn between Adolphe Menjou and Gary Cooper) and runs Thursdays and Sundays through August 12, ending with Cache (directed by Michael Haneke, with Juliet Binoche). Screened in between those dates are movies perhaps less well known (“Muriel,” “Xala”) and classic (“The Battle of Algiers,” “Casablanca”).
The mirrored SpiegelTent is up again, just across the campus road from the Fisher Center. You can go there several afternoons with the whole family and dine there. Those 21 and up can come in the evenings for cabaret, and late into the night, for SpiegelClub, Fridays and Saturdays through August 18. This year’s Thursday Night Live, July 12 through August 16, focuses on dance—tango, salsa, swing and more.
The Bard Music Festival presents concerts—chamber and orchestra—panel discussions and preconcert talks that center on Saint-Saens and his contemporaries. The composer lived a long and influential life, so there’s a lot to draw upon. “Paris and the Culture of Cosmopolitanism” is the theme of Weekend One, August 10-12, and “Confronting Modernism” is the focus on Weekend Two, August 17-19.