3 February 2017
Author: Asteropi Tia Chatzinikola & Graham Watts

Thu 2 Feb: Jan Lee/Denis Santacana/Hanna Wroblewski

Jan Lee How to Play A Room

Denis Santacana Dance Company Encuentros

Hanna Wroblewski Darling, I don’t sell dreams

A group of three, a duet and a solo, shaped last night’s Resolution as we followed choreographers’ endeavours to capture their thoughts through movement.

Jan Lee opens How to Play A Room with Katsura Isobe standing frozen in the downstage-right corner, her eyes wandering around the space. She attempts timidly to move but an “Uh-oh” sound forbids it. A movement-sound relationship is developing, while two other performers enter the stage. They chase each other transforming the room into a playground. Thelma Sharma spreads the comic element with her storyteller-clown-like character, while Danai Pappa shouts “I am missing nothing if I am not tuned like them”. English, Greek chats and a Japanese lullaby mingle and negotiate efficiently the confused identity of an outsider who becomes an insider when the society changes.

The silhouettes of Denis Santacana and Victor Fernández travel through space and shape accidental, continual meeting points, unveiling their piece Encuentros. A table, two chairs and a glass of wine placed diametrically opposite one another create a theatrical play-sense. Fernández’s rhythmical flamenco pattern blends with Santacana’s unpausing movement, as he slides, falls and rises gently. This kinesthetic dialogue between two edges becomes an alteration between fast-paced choreography and slow- motion underwater walking. Strong imagery, liquid sounds, and an action-crescendo lead us back to the beginning. The poetic parallel reality of Encuentros still walks underwater in the sea of my mind.

In a misty scene, Hanna Wroblewski stands tall, with her back to us, on a high stool. Her white dress and pure red hair draw the imagery of a nymph. While she moves, red shiny dust falls to the floor making a fairy-like noise. The seductive dreamy scenery is enriched by her melodic whistle and humming. She tries to balance, she lies on the stool with her legs cycling. She is upside down staring at us, thanking us for coming, and sings acapella “Dream a little dream of me…” Contrary to the title, she really sold a dream to me.

Asteropi Tia Chatzinikola


It takes confidence or courage to perform an entire dance piece, for the best part of 20 minutes, perched on a stool. Hanna Wroblewski lacks neither requirement. Placed on this pedestal, a few feet from the ground, she is a silver screen siren; voluptuous in a Grecian gown, slowly revolving, shyly shielding her face from view. Wroblewski’s long red hair sparkles as glitter floats from it. The glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age is encapsulated by the body of Mae West and the hair of Rita Hayworth; but wrapped in a puzzling performance that also evokes the intrigue of Wroblewski’s long-deceased compatriot, Marlene Dietrich. Her slow-motion revolve, while humming an indiscernible, yet melodic tune, surrounded by flickering glitter, was an arresting spectacle. Just as the thought of this being all, began to settle, Wroblewski descended from the vertical and, arching her back over the stool, faced the audience, upside down, her naked legs slowly cycling the air. She sang, unaccompanied, Dream a Little Dream of Me; holding the tune sensitively and with style, having earlier confessed that singing in public was her worst fear.

The evening had opened with another curious work by a diverse female trio. Katsura Isobe, initially frozen within a square of light, is forbidden to move by an offstage voice, later singing in Japanese; Danai Pappa speaks in Greek. This confusion of national identity is absorbed into playful social inter-action while an engaging woman (Thelma Sharma), wearing an odd head-hugging straw hat, provides a mischievous Chaplinesque movement-narration; thereby tying together the many creative strands of Jan Lee’s direction.

Encuentros are meetings, defined in this double-hander, by – and for – Denis Santacana and Victor Fernández, as sentimental, random encounters. Their dance theatre is heavily influenced by the movement and palmas of flamenco, skilfully danced by Fernández. As in the best tablao their interactions sizzled with chemistry and charisma in a work that was creatively designed to an excellent score by Victor Guadiana.

Graham Watts


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