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Adi Salant - 'Shakuf'; Solar Salt - 'Something'; Maria Ghoumrassi - 'Pestle and Mortar'

by Thea Nerissa Barnes

January 22, 2005 -- The Place, London

"Shakuf" - Choreographer: Adi Salant (Denmark)

With the percussive drive of Brian Eno’s music, Adi Salant's movements have fragmented gestures with lashing legs and arms that establish a strong visceral persona. What is meant then by the shy, thumb sucking posture that contradicts a high stepping androgenic manner? This is the other side of the persona Salant portrays, alluding to a sense of femininity that is flexible; strong, invincible, yet vulnerable. After this physical introduction the man portrayed by Jesper Thirup Hansen enters. Hansen is similarly dressed and when they move they appear the same; same movements, same physicality, appearing androgenic, the only difference being Salant’s hypermobility.

Hansen’s disjointed, fragmented movements allude to his frustration and complement Salant’s flexibility. They tease with simple gestures flutters of hands, clapping each others hands and waist caresses which the women rebukes or simply slips away from. The first successful encounter has Hansen’s catching Salant inverted but facing away from him. The second successful encounter has Hansen catch Salant vertically but she is lifted over his head looking down on him. The break away emphasizes the failure of their consummation as they separate from each other, the black out of the lights revealing the increasing distance between them. Each reaches but does not touch. Hansen’s final solo is a reiteration of his disjointed ness enforcing his lost and failure.

"Something Missing ...?' - Choreographer: Nam-Eun Song

The first video tape shows fragmented frames of London and then the entrance of three dancers - two women and a man. One woman enters looking at the audience but she seems more to be looking generally or to look past the audience rather than directly at individuals. The other woman seems involved with her presence in this space, and the man is totally absorbed in himself. The movement is improvised which gives it a performative layer of self absorption. The movement style is conventional release movement vocabulary with a layer of emotion that assists in distinguishing the state of each character.

The trio pass, meet and pass each other with minimal contact until one woman looks at various parts of the man’s body, finishing on his abdomen. He eventually rejects her and a fight ensues involving all three. It would appear the man wants the other woman not the one who solicits his attention. The woman who is rejected does a dance of rejection with a black and white video of an eye. After this the man does a frantic solo in a squared spot of light centre stage. The speed of his dance is directed by the women who call out “stay still”, “slow”, “faster” bidding for his attention. The third video of shattered imagery is more interesting than the movement the trio do in three pinpoint shafts of light. The last section is an arrangement of walking patterns through the space. This particular section highlighted the alienation of each as each possible encounter fails. The music of this section adds to the sense of aloneness.

"Pestle and Mortar" - Choreographer: Maria Ghoumrassi

The work begins with a female laughing and as the lights come up there is a collection of mortars and pestles positioned upstage right. The women enter and an ambience is created with the taped sound of women gathering to begin the business of grinding mill. This environment is the space in which four women (Jreena Green, Cecilia Low, Dalh Haynes and Ivana Ostrowski) will dance as a community, then through solos to illustrate their aspirations and limitations. The ensemble work establishes the familial ties between the women with a child portrayed by Maria Ghoumrassi watching and the matriarch, portrayed by Thandi Zulu, joining in. The movement is lyrical contemporary dance moves with an edge of angularity. Zulu adds her particular way of swaying hips and South African stomp while the other women add inferences of Africanist like moves transliterated in their movement expressions.

When the women are returning to their duties with the pestle, one woman rejects her pestle. The other women try to make her take the pestle; they cajole, then demand her return to her duty. Near the end of the work, Zulu supported with singing by Ghoumrassi, reminds Low, through hand gestures and fall/recovery catches, of her responsibility to herself and to her community. It was not clear why the character Low portrays desired to leave her community though her solo like the others illustrate a layer of frustration. Some of the ensemble work including the percussive work of the mortar and pestle seemed unfulfilled. Aside from these concerns the dancing was exceptional.

All three works seem to illustrate the tenuousness of relationships whether that be between a man and a woman, two women or an individual and the culture they reside in. The works each in their own way developed a movement language whether conventional or improvised to illustrate an issue and a possible solution. The proposition posed each work succeeded in offering each choreographer’s intention.

Edited by Jeff

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