ImPulsTanz 2012: Benoît Lachambre – Snakeskins

For years I’ve been hearing about Benoît Lachambre and how splendid and illuminating his work is. From the same crowd who love Jerôme Bel and detest Anna Teresa de Keersmaker and passionately loathe ballet.

Hence Lachambre’s work has always appeared conceptual and fairly painful to me. In the best case, instructive or prophylactic, like a trip to the dentist. The tangy taste I had of his work with Clara Furey at the Franz West Tribute did inspire me to attend a full show. What impressed me there was his intensity. Lila, under Lachambre’s mentorship for the summer, told me that his main speech to DanceWeb was all about intensity on stage. A very good point to make.

Benoit Lachambre Snakeskins photo Christine Rose Divito
Benoit Lachambre Snakeskins: LaChambre is bottom left, Albanese is bottom left
Rowe is on top of the rig pounding a thunder sheet
photo Christine Rose Divito

In “Snakeskins”, Lachambre begins by hanging upside down in a harness under a vast set of cables which dip four metres out to the audience. On the left of the netting is a guitarist with some computers and sound decks. As Lachambre waves his arms and the cables move, he appears to be flying like a giant bird. As he flies the music soars.

Throughout the piece Hahn Rowe’s sound is incredible. The closest equivalent which comes to mind (without Frip’s vocals) would be King Crimson. Or the Canadian band Black Emperor. Rowe for extended passages even plays his guitar with a bow like a classical violinist.

ImPulsTanz 2012: Benoît Lachambre - Snakeskins Continues »

ImPulsTanz 2012: Francis Bacon with Ismail Ivo

One of the most awaited productions of the ImPulsTanz season includes co-artistic director Ismail Ivo in the lead role. Mesmerising posters and entrancing video previews have worked there magic. The public hungered for the late premiere. Here at last, Francis Bacon is a complex tormented work. The subject is the imaginative world of Irish visual artist Francis Bacon (1909-1992).

We begin in a prison cell with metal walls. There are flashing lights which recall something from the film the Matrix. It’s good to see a choreographic production challenging (if in miniature) the opera productions and the main stage theatre productions in production design. Great to get away from the empty black room at last. Fantastic work from production designer Penelope Wehrli.

Ismail Ivo is naked in a blanket, bare naked. The bottom of his feet are painted red, reminding us all that he and we are made of blood. The other dancers’ feet are also so painted. Mortality visualised on the soles of the feet.

Ivo struggles out of his blanket and against the closed walls. No exit is to be had.

Here a man enters (Giuseppe Paolicelli). Ivo’s Bacon first fights with him and then moves to love. Their love making is violent. Here sex is no gentle caress but a lashing out against mortality, an attempt to subjugate and own the other.

ImPulsTanz 2012: Francis Bacon with Ismail Ivo Continues »

Impulstanz 2012: Franz West Tribute

Franz West died July 25. West was a conceptual artist who collaborated often with the dance creators at ImPulsTanz. Karl Regensburger moved quickly to put together a tribute by many of the dance makers who had worked with West or were influenced by his work last night.

Franz West by Ludwig Koeln
Franz West by Ludwig Koeln

Moderator and hands on organiser Jennifer Lacey did her best to keep the program on track but at two hours without a formal break and some real trouble moving the performers on and off, momentum was uneven. Had Lacey known how many pauses there would be, she could have passed on the introduction and done that in forced breaks. She told one joke which made me laugh while waiting what seemed like half an hour for Philip Gehmacher to get out of the back and onto the stage. Gehmacher’s equipment in the end was moved out onto the stage by force by Intendant Regensburger himself.

“As dancers we learn young to come on time or ahead of time and to be ready. Visual artists don’t ever seem to get this message – they are almost always late and badly organised – so collaborating with them is always an adventure for us.”

To open there was a beat poetry reading in the upper foyer of Kasino. Then the doors opened and a blonde transvestite in the most amazing electric blue platform heels pranced out.

Impulstanz 2012: Franz West Tribute Continues »

ImPulsTanz 2012: Ivo Dimchev, The P Project

The word on the street is that this Ivo Dimchev guy is unpredictable, even dangerous. You just don’t know what will happen when you enter the auditiorium. Mystery and danger, powerful human aphrodisiacs. It starts calmly enough.

Ivo Dimchev The P Project
Ivo Dimchev The P Project:
Projection of the cancelled verbal game
Readable 3456 pixel version

A guy walks onto the stage half naked shaved head and gold chains. Sits down at an electric piano. Holds his hands solemnly in prayer. Looks good and safe so far. First sign of trouble: Dimchev pulls out a little vertical jar, holds up to his nose and takes a couple of big snorts. Poppers he says.

He plays the piano rather well and then starts pounding on the keys so hard and so randomly you wonder if he knows how to play the piano at all. But then his fingers find the keys again. Dimchev stops occasionally to laugh maniacally, shaven head and UR-slavic features like some James Bond villain prototype.

Time to talk. Inspiration for the show: playing games with the word “pussy”. Word game works like this: adjective (fervent, macrobiotic, powerful, interrupted) plus “pussy” plus preposition (in, to, of, from, without) plus noun (airport, future, foundation, university). For some reason this word game doesn’t satisfy Dimchev’s requirements for interaction with audience. Too abstract.

ImPulsTanz 2012: Ivo Dimchev, The P Project Continues »

Sarka Ondrisova’s Voda na Vode in SND

Voda na voda starts with a woman lying in a chalk body circle, surrounded by suitcases and clothes scattered across the stage.

The ruins of life.

The beginning is the end, like a film. How did she arrive here?

As we all do by living life.

Voda na voda is a series of associative tableaux, focused alternatively on travel or on the relationships between men and women.

Men don’t do very well here. We’re either brutes, or dependent winos. Easily seduced, easily duped. Better controlled on a short leash than loved.

It’s a dark look into the heart but not an unmerited one. Most women do feel hard done by.

Along the way we are treated to elaborate work with bathtubs, high heels, climbing gear, skipping ropes, suitcases, suspended rope.

Sarka Ondrisova's Voda na Vode in SND Continues »

Emio Greco: Double Points: Hell at ImPulsTanz 2011

The Odeon is one of the most magnificent performance spaces anywhere in the world. A dance company need only take the Odeon down to sandy bricks and Corinthian columns to create an atmosphere of impending wonder.

Emio Greco when he brough Double Points: Hell to ImPulsTanz went one step further. He opened up not just the main theatre space but the wings. The performance space was massive. He chose to use the light pushing in from side windows and skylights as the principal lighting. Starting time very strang though: 19:30, too late for the daylight to really dominate the lighting, too early for artificial lights to work their magic.

The absence of coherent lighting weakened the spell Greco tried to cast with his two dancers Sawami Fukuoka and Dereck Cayla (in an role originally created by Greco on himself). On the other hand, the deep klang soundscapes resonate (uncredited).

Double Points Hell Sawami Fukuoka
Double Points Hell Sawami Fukuoka and Dereck Cayla
Photo Floriaan Ganzevoort

Cayla is clad all in black stocking, as a shadow. One cannot even see mouth or eyes. To open Double Points: Hell, Kayla offers a kind of neo classical frenzied solo. Anticipation is high.

What follows are solos by Sawami Fukuoka and sequences where she is shadowed by Cayla. Sometimes she seem coherent, other times she seems to rave. She pulls at her clothing, flaunts her sexuality. Fukuoka's initial oriental doll charm falls away entirely when she rips the black wig off her head and reveals the shaved head of psychiatric patient.

Double Points Hell Sawami Fukuoka Emio Greco
Double Points Hell Sawami Fukuoka Emio Greco
Photo Anna van Kooij

Fukuoka is the incarnation of a girlfriend gone wrong, a woman gone mad.

Yet strangely her monologues in Japanese failed to touch any emotional chord. I just felt a distance from someone with whom one would not want to share a space. Later when Fukuoka and Cayla dance an extended duet to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, Double Points: HELL hints at taking wings again.

Double Points Hell Sawami Fukuoka 2
Double Points Hell Sawami Fukuoka 2
Photo Anna van Kooij

Yet somehow the night I saw Double Points: HELL even that duet remained relatively flat emotionally. Something happening to two strangers, a good idea unfulfilled, a promise not kept.

The existential questions about sexuality and violence which Double Points: HELL strives to raise remain unanswered and for me unilluminated. The whole piece seems a strong concept (similar to the Roland Petit's Le Jeune Homme et la Mort) in neither original nor virtuouso execution.

Double Points: HELL is only forty minutes long and there are passable steps hence as a spectator you don't have the time to be bored. In the end, I felt just lightly disappointed and somewhat empty leaving the miniature. Much of the general applause felt perfunctory in honor of Fukuoka's effort and Greco's reputation rather than an overwhelming spontaneous combustion. But the applause rang on long enough that I might be wrong.