Jasmin Vardimon “Yesterday”
Sadler's Wells Theatre, London
Thursday 9 June 2011
Jasmin Vardimon's “Yesterday” was created in 2008 as a collage of previous works the choreographer had created in order to mark the company's tenth anniversary. Memory was the theme behind the work and the choreographer used the idea of how memories are revived in our minds in sometimes disconnected ways, as the link that put all her different parts together.
The result of this is a dance show that is more coherent than one might think at first. The sections that make up the work may have come from many different sources, but the links and the transitions between them make the whole evening flow effortlessly.
“Yesterday” balances irony, humour, aggression and tenderness in a way that is difficult to see these days. The result is a powerful work that stays in your memory thanks to the depth underlying each one of the parts. It does not matter if these come from different works because Vardimon presents them in a way that leaves them open to the viewer, so that we can connect them as we like.
The use of media is outstanding. It enhances the choreographic ideas rather than distract the viewer from what the performers are doing and it gives significance to many of the moments in the work in a way that would be difficult to achieve without it. It is a means of expression and not an end.
The choreography itself deserves praise. Vardimon moves from street to contemporary to martial arts and one is constantly surprised by her inventiveness and freedom in the use of vocabulary.
Moreover, Vardimon offers a voice that nowadays is difficult to see on the English stages, that of a woman choreographer, and it shows what a difference this can make in the treatment of themes and in offering a different point of view. I found this refreshing and easy to relate to.
There are many wonderful moments in “Yesterday”. Some of these rely on humour, like the one in which a man tells the audience a sarcastic manifesto that resemble many of the new nationalistic ideologies. Once he has told his creed, the section moves into a wonderful dance in which he waves a flag in a manner that resembles the flag throwing seen in Italy. There is another moment in which a man tries to hurt a woman and she ends up having such a go at him that, just the thought that this could be possible, makes one smile. There is the fire in the house, leading to a moment of violence between a man and a woman that culminates in the most tender moment when the man ends up giving his heart to the woman. There is the closing moment, to Mozart's Kyrie Eleison, full of beauty and choreographic simplicity and in which the dance flows against a backdrop of white feathers. The resulting image is wonderful.
Vardimon has provided her company and her audience with a work that is more than the sum of its parts. The way she presents memories as snippets that, through our own associations, become fully developed narratives has been achieved by her command of the stage and of her performers.
The dancers were fantastic. It would be impossible to single one out, they performed as a company and they all shone in different parts throughout the evening. They had depth and ability in their technique, thus they managed to carry the physicality of the work through without making concessions to the meaning behind their movement.
“Yesterday” is a work to treasure. It opens possibilities, it entertains, it makes you think and it presents realities that tend to be absent from the stages these days. Sadler's Wells presented it only for two days, I really hope they bring it back soon in order to allow the audiences to see all the layers that make up this signature piece.