Resolution! 2016, performances on January 15

Posted: January 20th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Resolution! 2016, performances on January 15

Resolution! 2016, January 15: Animal Radio, ISH by moi, Neus Gil Cortés

Publicity image for Neus Gil Cortés' Here Body (photo: Patricio Forrester)

Publicity image for Neus Gil Cortés’ Here Body (photo: Patricio Forrester)

Some subjects just don’t seem to share common ground with the choreographic side of dance and social media is one of them. Animal Radio’s Book My Face begins with a powerful visual image on a screen of two large-scale faces (of the two dancers, Maga Radlowska and Aneta Zwierzynska) undergoing cartoon-like transformations (photography by Agnieszka Dolata and filmed by Neil Emmanuel). The faces endlessly morph from one tic to another, one expression to the next, but the idea gets carried away; it becomes a show in itself, lasting the entire length of the work without playing more than a peripheral role in it. The drive behind Book My Face is an exploration of how ‘virtual identity affects the inner instinctive animal in us’ and ‘the extent to which the identities we inhabit impact on our movement patterns.’ Do they? It seems to be a case of a choreographic fusion of Animal Radio’s contemporary dance, capoeira and contact backing itself into a concept. The only connection is between the dancers and the live rhythmic input of musician Alex Judd. It might be worthwhile to put the concept and the visuals aside and start again with the dancers and the music to see where that might lead.

ISH by moi’s Sirens is another kind of animal altogether. Ishimwa Muhimanyi uses a zoological analogy to establish his premise: ‘Visibility exposes an animal to the risk of attack from its enemies, and no animal is without enemies. Being visible is therefore a basic biological risk; being invisible is a basic biological defence. We all employ some sort of camouflage.’ The opening film of the striking Muhimanyi in a long black wig, bright red pants and matching trainers drinking a milky white substance from a bowl on a white floor is a defiant statement of visibility. If he is being provocative it is with a siren’s beguiling sense of humour. In the same outfit he backs on to the stage in a narrow rectangle of light, rippling and undulating with unabashed showmanship before dropping his disguise to start a cabaret-like monologue on coming to grips with and overcoming fear (in the form of a black latex mask on a stand whose potential for camouflage he rejects). His text is candid and amusing (an irresistible combination) and his gestures seem to derive from the same impish source. By the end Muhimanyi has established his sense of self without imposing it; instead, he draws us into his world, our camouflage in disarray.

I have seen three pieces by Neus Gil Cortés (most recently at Emerge Festival) and while each has been quite different there is a core that is consistent. She has that ability to evoke emotion through a minimum of means. In Here Body she puts together traces of memories and expresses each of them in her movement, one after the other, sometimes overlapping, creating a collage of gestures, acts, and stillness that together form the reality she is remembering. As in memories, there is space and time in her work and she allows us the space and time to engage our imagination to draw us in to her remembering without giving us a narrative map. At the very beginning we see an empty wooden rocking chair in the spotlight and just clear of it, in the half-light, we see Gil Cortés lying on the floor, her head, long languid arms and legs in a state of suspension, floating. In her program notes, she writes that Here Body ‘explores feelings and fears around death and decay.’ These feelings, so I learned later, are the result of two concurrent events in Gil Cortés’ life: a loss of faith and the death of her beloved grandmother. I mention it not because they provide context vital to an understanding of the work, but because I am fascinated by Gil Cortés’ process of transforming memory into choreography, finding the emotion in motion and fusing the two in their shared meaning. This is what she does so well. Here she improvises to texts read by Jane Thorne that comprise random funerary memorials found on the Internet. However, at the end of Here Body Gil Cortés unravels part of the mystery by introducing a figure in the form of Durgesh Srivastava who represents her late grandmother. As a choreographic device it is risky, making visible what the invisible presence in the rocking chair had evoked. It is a concession to materialism, but Srivastava provides one of the crowning moments of the work. On the accent of ‘ok’ in a song (Darling Deer by BRIXIA) about the acceptance of death and decay, her arms trace a circle over Gil Cortés’ head like a prayer and continue upwards. It is such moments that have the power to heal.