It probably doesnât make sense to call a work of art perfect, but for âA Love Supreme,â John Coltraneâs four-part musical masterpiece recorded in 1964, the word sacred feels true and right. Itâs an offering, one that seems more invincible and raw with each hearing.
Coltrane, who overcame heroin and alcohol addiction before creating it, wrote in his liner notes about experiencing âa spiritual awakening, which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life.â
What doesnât strike the same ecstatic sensitivity is Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Salva Sanchisâs dance âA Love Supremeâ set to Coltraneâs recording. Ms. De Keersmaeker designed the structure and composition; Mr. Sanchis was in charge of the movement and improvisational techniques. In their âLove Supreme,â which opened the New York Live Arts fall season on Wednesday, each dancer in the all-male cast is meant to illustrate a musical instrument.
The dance, a reworked version of a 2005 piece, started in silence â a new touch and, at first impression, a smart one. Before the bare stage was splashed with music and bodies, this quiet setting was like a bridge between the chaos of the real world and Coltraneâs spiritual realm. The dancers coiled together in clusters and then wrenched apart and scattered. Thomas Vantuycom was lifted by the others â later, when this imagery returned in the fourth section, or âPsalm,â it seemed to symbolize Coltrane reaching for God.
Before the music started, Mr. Vantuycom was left alone onstage. He paused, staring in our direction, sketched out a loose movement vocabulary, leading his substantial yet silky frame into brief, supple…