Undertaking an entire Shakespearean play in under 25 minutes is no easy feat, but Nina von der Werth’s cast of four dancers did a superb performance of an abbreviated, bare bones but symbolic rendition of Macbeth. A hybrid of contemporary dance and physical theatre, it was nothing earth shattering in either medium but the costuming, props and flowing pace made for an enjoyable piece that effectively communicated the key points of the story. Most notable about the piece was the bared staging and ‘behind the scenes’ viewpoint, created with tape outlines and doorframes. The ‘offstage’ antics were just as busy as the Scottish play, with dancers fixing torn leggings, rummaging through make-up cases, and exposing their colouring undergarments.
Justyna Janiszewska’s solo transcience could be likened to the characteristics of an artist’s wooden doll, as she travelled upstage moving sequentially from her joints with precision and intention, accompanied by the rhythmic guitar of Johan Löfving. Through her contemporary robotics and abstract mimetic qualities, she ran the gamut of human emotion and expressivity, along with sounds that never turned into words but spoke to me nonetheless. Janiszewska began in a deeply contemplative state, appearing to be lost in the perplexity of her own movement, but there was surprisingly humorous tone by the end, as her spot lit hands became puppets in conversation with each other.
The evening ended with Sivan Rubinstein’s piece on news broadcasting and interpretation of current events. Embodying the never-ending stream of news, Samba and Tears opened with two dancers rotating and reading briefs from a computer screen, where headlines from this week were heard. The piece continued with a mixture of choral voices, sounds and thematic phrasing to shape a serious intonation throughout—until the piano was brought out and a chipper tune was played (Ehud Freedman) alongside the spoken weather forecast, highlighting its trivial and inconsequential nature.
It’s surprising that few choreographers have taken on the challenge of Macbeth, as the play’s action- packed scenes are full of choreographic potential. Nina von der Werth rises to the task with her cast of four dancers, costumes, puppets, music and even a few spoken lines at the end. Two door frames on either side of the space demarcate on/off stage. Sometimes what happens off stage is as riveting as what’s happening on: Lucia Chocarro sews up a hole in her tights, everyone helps themselves to chocolates or exchange smiles as they struggle with their costume changes. In about 20 minutes, this engaging company of four, present the pivotal moments of the play through mime, expressive dancing and the effective manipulation of props. There’s a continuous flow of action which keeps us delightfully entertained while the dancers are convincing both in and out of their roles.
Justyna Janiszewska’s solo starts off timidly. She moves downstage tentatively, with slight fractured body popping arm movements and jerky shuffles. Light catches parts of her body and the rasping violin music is a suitable accompaniment for her stumbling procrastinations and her incoherent verbal utterings. When guitarist, Johan Lofving starts to play, Janiszewska expands through larger, smoother reaches and lunges, embodying a different mood altogether. Frequent transformations conveyed through various means of bodily expression reveal not only how successfully she uses her body as both object and medium but also that she is mistress of eclecticism.
From reading headlines off a lap- top while performing slow pirouettes to occupying the stage in sculptural clusters or fluid sporty poses, three women investigate the daily impact of the news, sports coverage and weather. The sensationalist beats of the BBC News’ electronic music impose on us a multitude of associations; however Eva Chauvet, Rosa Firbank and Esther Manon Siddiquie steer clear of literal interpretations and instead pick up on the pathos and rhythms of news broadcasting in their articulate, witty performances. Samba and Tears softens the serious, authoritative tone of news delivery to a textured, accompanying sound-track.