FLESH AND BLOOD
by Donald Hutera
“For the spectator dance is an immediate physical experience, but its poetry is complex. For the dancer, dance is the urgent need to begin to dream meaning into one’s body.”
The above thoughts come from Maria Muñoz and Pep Ramis, joint artistic directors of the Spanish group Mal Pelo. Since founding the company in 1989, they’ve graduated from small-scale projects to larger, emotionally richer and visually more ambitious pieces. As varied as these are, each tends to possess a paradoxical fragility and strength that is altogether human.
Ramis, Muñoz and those with whom they work are not out to razzle-dazzle us with spectacular technique for its own sake. No matter how fabulously well they dance, they remain flesh
and blood beings who inhabit a world “where reality and fiction are often confused - a unique meeting point between thought and imagination.”
The title of the theatrical, text-peppered two-hander they bring to Umbrella 2002 translates as ‘the animal on your back.’ It’s compelling and full of wonder, with an approximately 80-minute running time that seems to fly by. The movement, whether a jerky solo or fluid duet, is at the service of a larger dramatic purpose centred on Ramis and Muñoz’s intense, physicalised characterisations. The pair suggest
a couple soldiering on through life on a set that, like them, undergoes multiple transformations. Chief among the production’s vivid, captivating stage pictures are a silhouette painting executed live and, incredibly, the introduction of a Heath Robinson-like flying bicycle. But, marvellous as these elements are, they don’t supplant the moving and humourous depiction of two complex individuals.
WHO: MAL PELO
WHAT: L’ANIMAL A L’ESQUENA
WHEN: FRI 25 - SAT 26 OCT
WHERE: THE PLACE: ROBIN HOWARD DANCE THEATRE
TICKETS: 020 7387 0031
This interview was posted by Stuart Sweeney on behalf of Donald Hutera and first appeared in Dance Umbrella News.
Donald Hutera writes regularly on dance and arts for The Times, Evening Standard, Time Out, Dance Europe, Dance Magazine (US) and Dance Now. He is co-author, with Allen Robertson, of The Dance Handbook.
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