Subscribe to the monthly for free!
by Katherine Phillips
May 20, 2004 -- Sadler's
Preljocaj has been traveling. Having experienced spiritual tranquility
in India and eye opening life lessons in Tanzania, his new piece, “Near
Life Experience”, is peaceful and elusive – completely polar to the raucous
strength of controversy and colour that we have become accustomed to in
The dancing is superb as always – strong, elegant and luminescent movements
sculpt the space of an open stage. Slow, soft, tender touches and support
are followed by bullets of precision and back arching, muscle wrenching
There are claustrophobic patterns and a stark sense of isolation in the
groupings. An atmosphere of non-violent threat permeates the action, but
with no antagonistic force: The crowds of dancers around one soloist represent
a joint force trying to extract a solitary experience. The relationships
between the dancers are taut but not stressed.
It is a choreography of nearlies: a scream that never comes out, a lick
that never tastes, a hug that never touches. There are moments we all
recognise but cannot place and a sense of deja vu. It is how we imagine
being in a coma or the moment in between sleep and dreams. The music,
featuring the chilled grooves and funky beats of French pop band AIR,
is full of such intimate, semi-reflective sounds – like a voice heard
from far away, or the soft, soothing and melodic tones of a guitar in
Red balls of wool, gigantic and tiny, roll and unwind to become ties that
bind, turning the dancers into puppets; then held in the mouth to represent
sexual desire; then walked on as a tightrope and attached to the dancers
like umbilical cords. This amniotic theme is further represented by carried
dancers somersaulting and leaping between fragile looking glass bubbles,
moving in slow motion as if under water.
"Near Life Experience" may not be overwhelmingly touching or
colourful, but for a pure dance performance, this is as good as it gets.
Choreographically for Angelin Preljocaj, this is a new journey: A naked
body, writhing in white residue ends the piece – perhaps symbolising his
re-birth as a pacifist choreographer.
Edited by Holly Messitt
stories in the press and see what others are saying. Click here.