29th August – opening night improvisation
Karlovac Dance Festival's opening night took place in the beautiful tree-lined surrounds of an open-air bar beside the river. A film of a solo dancer switching on and off a low-hanging light and contorting herself formed the backdrop. From merry chatting at tables, the all female cast of eight took to the performing space, transforming themselves from light-hearted friends enjoying a sociable evening to almost robotic dancers with intimidatingly unwavering intention.
Improvising their movements, performers followed a set of unspoken rules. A poisonous grope of the neck caused a tumble to the floor; a soft kiss enabled the body to reawaken. The repetition of austere crucifix shapes followed by gentle embraces was captivating. The cast seemed to have a shared tacit understanding and focus, penetrable to no one but themselves.
A sudden end was reached as dancers stood still before silently returning to their seats and resuming their noisy muttering, feeling once again human, animated and carefree.
30th August - Refleksije Idola
Refleksije Idola was screened for the Festival's second evening. With choreography by Vere Mitrović, the piece included an eclectic mix of styles from lyrical to jazzy and tribal.
Commencing on a dark stage, the white-costumed cast of 11 appeared like otherworldly creatures. Filmed from a distance, the individual identity of dancers was lost, and instead their alien-like shapes created a haunting, faraway image.
To tribal beats, dancers threw themselves around the stage with raw, animalistic passion, contrasting energetic elevation with weighty stamps and spinal twists. Later, performers appeared to be experiencing a religious epiphany, moving with serene elasticity to throaty vocals resembling a call to prayer.
The choreography lacked significance as a whole, but as a showcase for student dancers, it demonstrated excellently the young Croatians' great versatility and vivacity.