Sunday, 11 September 2011

Karlovac Dance Festival #3

4th September – 45o 29’ 12” Karlovac/ Hotel Korana/ so quite new a thing/ Duet #1

Created during the festival week, Avâtara Ayuso's 45o 29’ 12” Karlovac was a duet inspired by the Croatian city.

In silence two females faced front motionlessly before shaking their bodies with accelerating gusto. Then, using only a few simple dance movements – stamping, positioning the arms overhead, pelvic thrusts – the choreography was created through constant repetition with differing directions and speeds. As the dancers’ movements became more forceful and their breathlessness increasingly evident, the piece built its momentum up to an anticlimactic conclusion where the performers simply and abruptly walked offstage.

A second premiere was dance film Hotel Korana by Sebastian Rietz. To the sounds of ‘Shame’ by Herbst in Peking, Alejandra Baňo’s crumpled her petite figure with anguish amidst the war-torn architecture of the once-famous hotel. But eventually she triumphed and escaped her heartless enclosure, walking away, letting go and finding serene liberation from pain.

Ayuso's self-performed solo so quite new a thing was a disconcertingly sexy portrayal of female physicality. Commencing topless with her back to the audience, Ayuso wriggled and curled, with low lighting accenting the working of her every muscle. Then, with projected screen close ups of body parts, from a shoulder to toes, the dancer guardedly dressed herself before turning to the audience and proceeding downstage.

Avatara Ayuso
Photo: Karlovac Dance Festival
Ayuso articulated her feet, floated her hands like feathers and romped about the floor with such visceral sexual magnetism, I thought she might, at any moment, spontaneously reach orgasm. Exploring the body’s erotic potential, she seemed possessed by an intense carnal electricity which fuelled her movement and connected her to the audience. Inspired by a poem by E. E. Cummings, the choreography was accompanied by speech, notably the repetition of ‘flesh’ and ‘I like my body’. Ayuso is a delightful dancer, able to embody both elasticity and roughness with power and conviction; her so quite new a thing was irresistibly alluring.

The final live work was Duet #1, a collaboration between festival organiser Melita Spahic and Greece-based dancer and choreographer Rowan Thorpe.

Dancers appeared to be gripped by madness. Thorpe moved as if possessed by an imaginary but violently controlling force. At times, he seemed hallucinatory, acting out the personas of a rock star, boxer and John Travolta among others. Contrasting were Spahic’s restrained movements, which arched, coiled and rolled on the floor with a feeling of disorientation.

The sounds of unobtrusive mutterings and then a frustratingly broken Skype conversation added depth to the choreography. A background projection had performers sitting almost motionlessly as if waiting nervously for important medical results.

Unbelievably, Spahic and Thorpe put together the work via email, creating short segments at a time and sending them online to each other for feedback. Duet #1 was engaging, distressing and yet beautifully moving portrayal of two people’s inner mental turmoil.

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