Van Gogh (2009)

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Which Philadelphia dance company would recreate the collapse of Enron and the tortured life of artist Vincent van Gogh within a single season? More and more, theater patrons know there could only be one company behind visionary work like this: The Rebecca Davis Dance Company.

Critics called the Rebecca Davis Dance Company’s ENRON a “visually entrancing”, “powerfully innovative”, “masterfully executed” dance work that explored “strong, dangerous themes” with a narrative voice found in no other company. Founder and Artistic Director Rebecca Davis expands her range yet again with a re-imagining of the life of Vincent Van Gogh, indisputably one of the most famous painters of all time.

For this performance, Davis’ striking choreography finds the humanity in a man often depicted as a lonely, tormented genius who scorned the warmth of love and family. Through Rebecca Davis Dance Company’s Van Gogh, an engrossing story emerges of a man searching for the love and human connections we all need, finding its only expression in his art. An outstanding young cast brings life and a contemporary sensibility to those closest to Van Gogh: Sien Hoornik, a woman living with Van Gogh in The Hague; Theo, Van Gogh’s brother and lifelong companion,; and Paul Gauguin, Van Gogh’s mentor and rival artist. Drawn from the iconic works of art these real-life characters inspired, Rebecca Davis adapts her latest narrative to the transcendent inspiration that flowed from Van Gogh’s experience and relationships.

The Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) followed his artistic drive above all else and produced 1700 works, though he sold only one painting before he took his own life at the age of 37. He would never know how the portrait of his caretaker, Dr. Gachet, would fetch one of the highest prices ever paid for a work of art, $82 million. He would never see how artists and biographers pore over his painting of a family eating potatoes in a cramped cabin on a dark night. He would never experience the endless controversy over the meaning of the 2 chairs, one painted by himself and the other by his counselor and competitor, Gauguin. The irony and pain of his life are masterfully portrayed by Davis’ dancers in a libretto that takes note of a remarkable life.

– Written by Alaina Mabaso