News & Blogs

23 February 2019
Author: Neil Norman & Katie Hagan

Fri 22 Feb:Alice Bonazzi/Sara Marques/illyr/Kamavera Dance Theatre

Alice Bonazzi/Sara Marques IRMÃ

illyr untitled

Kamavera Dance Theatre Temporal Discord 

In most cases, a performance intentionally eliding any fixed ‘meaning’ is either enigmatic or cumbersome. illyr comprises faceless male torsos, random instruments and onstage videos, adding an Ivo Van Hove-style voyeurism to a sexually perverse dance piece. In one instance, a male dancer rouses an inactive male body by singing into a microphone strapped to his chest. It is a pseudo-love scene exploited by a male actor, who at times needed to control his pitch. Although it is an intriguing piece revelling in its dissonance, holistically it felt like a series of vignettes illogically sewn together that didn’t quite reach the coherency needed to sustain its own energy. And that was a shame.

Alice Bonazzi’s and Sara MarquesIRMÃ is a well-conceived performance in which you can do nothing but admire the sheer physicality of these two dancers and the dialogue they share. Everything in IRMÃ has been meticulously selected to underpin the complex bond between sisters. The music features numbing white-noise inflected with childlike circus samples, designed to offer bittersweet reminders of a once easy bond. The choreography achieves the same and more. It is unique and indescribable. At one moment, Marques kneels to support Bonazzi as she rises horizontally off the floor facing the audience with only her hand for reinforcement. A piece with a clear thread, it is a pure and engrossing performance with purpose.

Temporal Discord by Kamavera Dance Theatre features some clean choreography that certainly plays to the strengths of each performer. Although it contains enviable extensions, the piece requires more grounding. Three performers onstage is such a loaded image. Are they reworking the Holy Trinity or the Three Fates? Whilst there was noticeable synergy and timing between the three, the relationship was difficult to gauge. Some moments, including the awkward death of the dancer in black, were off-key and lacking pathos. Wrestling with these ideas a little more would have driven this piece to the deeper level it needed.

Katie Hagan

The piano, video projection and metal platforms in illyr trigger a sense of dislocation. Recordings of dialogues between terminally ill patients and doctors increase anxiety levels exponentially. By the time five men stripped to the waist begin to writhe and contort accompanied by the occasional drone of a violin or the sinister mutterings of a hirsute hipster - who later procures a corpse for sexual gratification - we either surrender to its diabolical environment or make our excuses and leave. The monochrome vision of homoerotic horror is uncompromising in its depiction of death, decay, voyeurism and necrophilia, as if inspired by the darkest investigations of Bill Viola and DV8. Perverse, savage and deeply disconcerting it overplays its hand with screaming vocals though the ‘Death Disco’ climax is effective and the final song oddly moving - a lament for a love that dares not speak its name for fear of conjuring demons.

Two women dance and flirt around each other in a dusty golden haze. The physical dialogue in IRMÃ is tentative and combative at first - a push me-pull you relationship as each tests the other’s strength through trials of trust, submission and domination. Powered by a soundscape that begins brightly and becomes progressively fractured it builds through aggression towards a well-earned tenderness. Movements and gestures become increasingly inventive; a tableau as one woman forms a horizontal bridge against the pillar of her kneeling partner and a foot repeatedly hooked beneath an arm conjures a sense of intimacy that is highly specific and yet easily understood. Fleeting riffs on capoeira and ballroom dance keep the duet alert to both the conventions and mysteries of physical attraction. A very satisfying piece.

Three women dressed in elegant variety - two in grey and one in black - sway and slide like The Three Graces at the end of a long night out. Circling each other and separating out in small solos there appears to be competition between two of them for the third figure marked by a red slash across her face. At first a victim she aspires to dominance by strangling one girl before moving on to her next prey. There is an awful lot of tendril-like arm-swaying and Sappho Lite eroticism but the sensuality is too conventionally expressed to cut beneath the surface and the absence of context leaves it stranded in workshop limbo. Although the dancers clearly revel in their physicality it remains little more than an exercise in athletic fluidity.

Neil Norman


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