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Bytom 2010 - reviews in English
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Aug 14, 2010 5:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bytom 2010 - reviews

Prima, which “one” does it mean?, July 2010

By Magdalena Mikrut

“Prima” in Italian means the first; in Spanish it refers to what’s perfect, splendid. The first one who delivers a blow. The first one who dares to express her sexuality - is aware of her power of attraction and the existence of libido.

“Prima”, performed by LeeSaar The Company, showed us four fascinating, female characters. In each one there’s an energy demon, constantly struggling to be released from the prison of the body, and driving the dynamics of the dancers’ movements. Each one of the artists is engaged in a battle. Is it imaginary? Or maybe real? But, without a shadow of a doubt, it’s a battle. Against whom, one might ask, against herself, the world, people, or the system? This narration is based on Lee Sher’s and Saar Harari’s lives, who both have military experience.

The architecture of the movement, perfect in every detail, was delightful. Each of the dancers employed different means of expressions, corresponding to the particular emotion she wanted to present. Therefore, we could see a seductress, a temptress, a female warrior, and a loner. These four women comprised a female gang, which could be compared, if we were to use pop-cultural references, to Charlie’s Angels. The dynamics central to the piece were highlighted by the choreographers’ tendency to use oblique lines and movement along the diagonals.

Particularly impressive was the dancer whose stage gestures and movement resembled feline behaviour. The aggression hidden in her was expressed in moments of feigned boxing, clenched fists and vigorous swings. The pussycat figure imagines a warrior who bravely fights all the obstacles. The colours associated with her were grayish and earthy, as presented on her shirt. Her opposite was an ethereal dancer with her hand on her breasts, wearing pink-hued clothes. A gesture typical and inseparable from her was a finger on her lips and a facial expression which combined fright and fascination.

The action on stage was accompanied by off-stage sounds imitating street noises. In this cacophony, one could distinguish humming cars, police reports submitted by radio and people shouting. Urban, realistic scenes were well rendered on stage thanks to the big city music from the record “Dirty Boom” by Filastine.

“Prima” is a brilliantly eclectic piece based on many dance and theatrical techniques, combined with a marvelous stage setting. This variety stems perhaps from the cooperation of an international, multi-ethnic group of dancers (from Italy, Germany, Taiwan, Korea, the USA and Israel). The female dancers make great use of their inherent skills and perfectly emphasise the most feminine parts of their bodies: dynamically moving hips, the primordial essence of femininity, are the source of all movement. Yet, the dancing version of Venus of Willendorf is not a mother-bearer. She is a dangerous warrior, conscious of her importance and the power she has over men. Their dance is very expressive and performed without contact. Each of the female dancers lives in her own world, which only sometimes overlaps with the others’ realities. It is particularly visible in the scene with chairs in which the dancers, with military precision, execute mechanical movements, becoming machines controlled by the music. Simply beautiful.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Aug 15, 2010 5:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bytom 2010 - reviews in English

Colour in the mist, July 2010

By Anna Duda

“In the beginning of our lives, we are all equally helpless, defenceless in the face of the world around us… Our gestures. Our movements are honest. The system of values is a clear division into black and white, nothing is in-between. Nobody knows the rules of the game that we got engaged in at the moment of birth … despite everything, the world rushes ahead.”

“Colorblind”, a work performed as a part of the Dance Bridge with Iceland Dance Company, carries us to a place where the metaphor of the human life is directly tangible. Out of the murky stage a voice is heard, introducing us to the central idea of the piece – the individual is hurled into the world where it has to struggle with its own being. The charming French song accompanying the speech, unknown not only to the audience, but also to the narrator himself, makes it seem rather light. Our confusion becomes obvious. The spotlights slowly illuminate the stage, revealing clouds of smoke, with legs moving in them, just barely noticeable. A beam of light on the right accentuates the silhouette of a female artist; she keeps her legs lifted vertically and, unhurriedly, pretends to be walking in the air. A moment later, the viewers could observe her on the stage covered with white dust, performing a series of soft, circular movements with her whole body. She gradually yielded herself to the power of the floor, which attracted her every movement. Melancholy and the impossibility of breaking away from the space were discernible in this dance. Both the dancer striving against the surface and the misty space above contribute to the message conveyed in this scene – that humans depend on matter. As this is the only rule we get at the moment of birth, the whole sequence gains a tragic quality. The performance reveals the vision of an individual which, on one hand, is hurled into the world, lonely, subjected to the unpredictable twists of fate, and on the other hand, becomes involved in the interactions with other people. Those relations are multidimensional, what is rendered by the multitude of the presented dance sequences.

We establish contact because we seek codependence, we want to influence others because we cannot control our own lives. It all became reflected in the group scene composed of dynamic lifts and pulls1. The dancers, by tangling their bodies in various combinations, presented the full range of the possible interactions. The rhythm of drawing in and out, jumps and falls, wide and closed movements, closeness and distance between the artists – oscillation between these two poles shows the dynamics of life and marks the rhythm of the piece.

The last sequence consisted mostly of a female-male duet, in which the female dancer inertly exposed herself to her partner’s movements - she was pulled up, her hair was pulled to make her move along the stage. The face and body covered with dark dust, which was placed in the right front corner of the stage, symbolically emphasised her loss of dynamics. The dancer successively tries to bring her back to life. In the background of these scene, there were two dancers hanging high above the stage in harnesses. For the first time in this piece, colour appears on stage – colourful ribbons are tied to the harnesses which are twisted around the static bodies of hanging performers. The attempt at reanimation failed – the female dancer joined the two artist already in the air. The stage is illuminated with intense, yellow light. We are experiencing a special moment, resembling the act of crossing to the other side of reality. Colour belongs exactly to that sphere – in our normal lives we are colourblind. The curtain which at the end is left open slightly alludes to the mystery concealed in our life experiences: ”The moment you realise that so far even you have been blind to the reality around you, the world rushes ahead.”

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Aug 15, 2010 5:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bytom 2010 - reviews in English

Dance Bridge: Samovarteateret (Norway) & Silesian Dance Theatre (Poland)
or how to spend your time profitably
, July 2010

The performance of “Lake La Mnija. In the process of half of sth” is an example of how much one can achieve with both cooperation and education. Although the established methods have proved their value, it is still worth looking for new modes of expression. This was most certainly a breath of fresh air for the audience.

The acting was not reduced to a few repetitive schemes. On the contrary, it was lively, dynamic and varied. The actors were using all the things that surround us, testing and examining both spoken and body language.

The fundamental question, perhaps already a bit outdated, is whether language constructs us or whether we construct language. The word "love" has many positive connotations. Hearing it makes us smile. On the other hand, it can acquire new meaning and gain a new undertone. Obviously, language is arbitrary. The linguistic form is only an external surface of something more profound. The words "eating a kebab" may express some excruciating tragedy. Being aware of this external layer, we nevertheless have to accept the power of the words, that control us. "Sleep!", although not representing anything, makes us obey the order. Linguistic constructs, or other codes, that we use, move us just as happened with the characters in this piece.

Both groups succeeded in establishing a lively interaction with the audience, which is not always easy. At the same time, the framing device, the constant rhythm of mood change, ranging from gloom to joy, drew the viewers' attention and made it impossible to grow weary of the show.

Samovarteateret and Silesian Dance Theatre created a successful piece, which left the viewers hungry for more, giving a lot of satisfaction with time well spent.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Aug 15, 2010 5:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bytom 2010 - reviews in English

ACTION/INTERACTION – what comes next?, July 2010

This was not the first time Bytom audiences could see these two choreographers from Israel – Yossi Berg and Oded Graf. And certainly it is well-nigh impossible to remain indifferent towards their ironic style and particular sense of humour, full of brilliant observations. The choreographers manage to engage the viewers, in a clever way: in the intimate play happening on stage and the interaction between their personalities and bodies. They themselves don’t neglect the presence of the audience, they sense and react to it. Action, reaction, constant movement and the interdependence of the dancing bodies are the essence of the two artists’ performance. Despite the ostensible straightforwardness of the choreography, the style of the dancers, highly accentuating its corporeal aspect, results in the viewers being deeply immersed in the on-stage frolic.

In “Most of the day I'm out” the audience experiences a battle between two male bodies, fought in the empty stage space. These bodies, seemingly alike, have different ways of moving, movement interpretation, and sensitivity. At the beginning of this short duo, lasting only ten minutes, the dancers, wearing dark blue overalls, stand at opposite sides of the stage and observe each other attentively. In unison, they lift their hands towards a zipper and slowly unzip their clothes to the waist. They show one shoulder, then the other. Finally, still undressed from the waist up, they go beyond the private space of the outfits. The interaction begins - it’s a dynamic duet full of vitality and humour. There’s passion and closeness, although mixed with violence, blows and the feeling of being constantly watched. The dancing game closes with an intimate Argentinian tango sung by Carlos Gardel which unites the dancers’ bodies. In this duet, Yossi Berg seems to be alluding to our lives, which constantly happen “outside”: outside our houses, outside our bodies, in the infinite space of possible references, meetings, coincidences. We are shaped by and we live thanks to interactions with other people, in confrontation with their behaviors, personalities, and bodies.

In the second piece, “Mechanical trio in a hot country”, the two choreographers are joined by a female dancer, Karmit Burian. The performance is a succession of movement sequences presented by the three artists, which, in time, transform from amusing “threesomes” with subtle erotic overtones to mechanical sequences of repetitive gestures and poses synchronised with the dynamic rhythm of breathing. The trio becomes an organic machine executing successive movement sequences which happen faster and faster. Laughter, breathing, and moaning cause the reactions of the cogwheels comprising the white-hot machinery of cooperating bodies. Eventually, the construction dies down; the exhausted dancers, leaning against each other, rise and fall slower and slower, with every breath becoming more languid. The red lighting, in the form of the fluorescent tubes placed in each of the four corners of the stage, emphasises the state they’re in.

The sounds accompanying the performance consist partly of the noises made by the dancing bodies themselves, their squeaks, laughter and groaning, and partly of the electronic music of the avant-garde artist John Cage introduced later in the piece, while the finish features John Fahey’s guitar work. “Mechanical trio” may be interpreted as a metaphor of interpersonal relations, and mechanisms we must accept if we live in society and agree to conform to its rules. There is no longer a place for coincidence and spontaneity.

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