Natalie Reckert: Image

Posted: April 22nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Natalie Reckert: Image

Natalie Reckert, Image, Jacksons Lane, April 18

Natalie Reckert

Natalie Reckert

Natalie Reckert graduated from Circus Space in 2007 with hand balancing as a main discipline. Wanting to broaden her horizons, she spent a year at a dance school in her native Germany called Visions in Motion. Back in the UK she has performed with Stumble Dance Circus, The Sugar Beast Circus, The Generating Company and Collectif and Then (also on this Jacksons Lane Frantic Evening program with Acrojou). Image is, I believe, Reckert’s first attempt at creating a solo that brings together her skills and experience. ‘The desire to make a solo show came out of the research project Labor Cirque in Köln in 2013, an interdisciplinary attempt to understand the composition, dramaturgy and specific movement vocabulary of contemporary circus.’

Her skills in hand balancing are phenomenal and she is bubbling with ideas and ‘stability experiments’ to try out in front of us. At the very beginning she banishes us to the lobby with instructions to return after a minute. ‘It’s a social experiment,’ she says later. When we return she is standing on her hands and remains so until we are all seated and quiet (some time). Reckert has enough air in her lungs to maintain a monologue in whichever orientation she happens to be, and her monologue is carefully conceived to act as a rhythmic device for her performance. Phrases will repeat (‘My name is Natalie and I like doing handstands’) with engaging self-confidence and delivered with a devilishly dry sense of humour.

She has a predilection for stalking upside down amongst a dozen eggs with an accuracy of a mother hen (her agility has a birdlike quality) and to prove they are raw she deliberately falls on them one collapsing, messy handstand after another, like Michael Strecker sitting on the balloons in Tanztheater Wuppertal’s Auf dem Gebirge. But Pina Bausch framed Strecker’s actions in a surreal setting with a surreal costume and he is deadpan in his delivery. Also there is very little skill in popping a balloon by sitting on it. Reckert’s skill is evident in making the handstand and she is breaking the eggs to make a point. There is no point in Strecker’s act; that’s the point. Reckert also dances in Image, though she limits her movements to a gestural language that she performs upright and upside down to an electronic beat.

Now for an apparently controversial aspect. At the beginning of Image Reckert pulls from the wings a paper confection in the form of a flat-topped pyramid. When the time comes she drags it to centre stage and sets to ripping off the paper to reveal….a handstand table with its instantly recognizable invitation to perform a specific circus skill. Why is this controversial? She tells me afterwards that her fellow circus graduates are sharply divided as to whether to admit to the stage the props on which they learned their art or to leave them off (it would certainly be easier for Reckert to abandon the handstand table than for Collectif and Then to abandon their ropes or for Acrojou to abandon their German Wheel). Reckert decides to keep it in Image and performs some remarkable balances on it while keeping up her monologue or dancing her legs and a free arm with the coordination of a conductor, but whatever she does cannot hide the unmistakable circus signpost. It is as if she is still pulled between the desire to perform the skills she has learned so well and the desire to find a new form for her circus art.

Thinking of Bausch again, I wonder if before the form must come a creative, imaginative process to bring out unique elements within Reckert that will allow her physical skills to coalesce into an engaging, funny, visually coherent, skillful whole. She is quite capable of it; we all have many images, and this is only her first.