Koresh Dance Company is looking to the world of fine arts for inspiration.
Thus, the world premiere of its production, “La Danse,” is an interpretation of Matisse’s masterpiece of the same name. It will be performed to an original musical composition by John Levis with poetry by Karl Mullen.
Roni Koresh, the company’s artistic director, said the iconic image of five nude dancers was always around — but when he began focusing on it, he found it inspiring.
Koresh said that in bringing the imagery of this painting to the stage, he wants to create something that is beautiful and challenging in a world where such things are in short supply.
“Because of the state that we are in right now, the country is so divided,” he said. “This particular painting is such a representation of unity or the desire for unity. I think that it is an important work to inspire people to understand that united we stand and that, as individuals, we will fall.”
Koresh said that when he was 10 years old, he had a print of the painting hanging in his room — but that he didn’t pay much attention to it.
He recalled that he appreciated the colors being so vibrant and beautiful, but that he didn’t see much more until he was older.
“Why did it have so much expression in a sense of five different people in a different state of positioning and expressed emotion? There is an expressed emotion, and in dance, it is such a powerful thing,” he said. “When I was looking at it, I suddenly discovered so much. The choices of colors, it was green earth and blue sky.”
The famous painting turned out to have three different incarnations, which gave some depth to how Koresh presents the imagery and the story he wanted to depict on stage.
“Once I decided to tackle this and see what I can come up with, I realized there were three paintings. This particular image of five women in the nude appeared in the center of a very large painting of people in the garden, ‘Le bonheur de vivre.’ [Matisse] extracted that image and created the painting that we know, ‘La Danse.’
“Then, [Matisse] was commissioned to redo another one for a Russian millionaire. This time it was two men and three women. That’s the one that impacted me the most because it changed the texture of everything. There was a sense of danger, and the color itself, the saturated colors, had such a dramatic impact on the painting.”
Koresh said that’s when he started to let his imagination run with what was happening in it. He tried to put himself in the place of each individual in the circle.
“It’s very interesting, the concept that I chose. Obviously circles represent unity and the circle of life. In that particular circle, the center didn’t hold. It feels like somebody is falling. You allow yourself to go with your own understanding of each person, the reasoning for the circles and where they are. There’s so much in it.”
Koresh said that, despite these dangerous times, his interest is to investigate the idea of love and relationships.
“The notion of love, the texture and color of love and friendship; living is more about texture. I try to remove any kind of judgment and leading aspect to [this piece]. I wanted the outcome to be hopeful, to be inspirational and to move people. I wanted things to be good. Although the journey can be turbulent and rough and painful, I wanted the outcome to be wonderful and accessible.
“It sounds like a cliché, but we need love. We need passion. We need heart. We need to see the beauty that we have.”
Koresh said his goal is to contribute something different on something that is beautiful.
“This particular work is such a celebration of tenderness and beauty and joy.”
Koresh Dance Company presents “La Danse” April 25-28 at Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St. For more information, visit www.koreshdance.org.