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ImPulsTanz 2012: Tremor – Sebastian Matthias

 When we enter Kasino, the lights are half up, the dancers in place like living sculpture. They are positioned like a right angle triangle each in a corner.

When the door closes, a drum on top of a loudspeaker starts to play. It’s never quite clear what causes the drum to make noise and what part of the drumming is recorded and what part is pulled out of the drum on stage. The sound will be the most interesting aspect of this piece.

Tremor’s three dancers are modestly attired. Lisanne Goodhue is in a rose pastel thigh length dress. Isaac Spencer in faded skin tight jeans and a t-shirt. Sebastian Matthias himself in lederhosen and a beige t-shirt.

Their motions are spastic. Then motion stops and they hold uncomfortable poses, like store front mannequins. Tremor is about dislocated figures. The dancers eventually degenerate into little toy soldiers with the martial drumming behind them. At a deeper level, Tremor addresses alienation in society and the structural constraints imposed on our lives in our brave new technical world.

The idea is not bad, but the execution falls down on three points:

  1. Movement: the choreography is alright but not something which one would normally leave home to see.
  2. Technique. None of the dancers are so technically astonishing that it is a pleasure to watch them repeat the same movements over and over. The quality of the movement is adequate but mediocre.
  3. Physical beauty/presence. None of the dancers have either charisma or intensity or physical beauty in such quantity that the previous two faults would be easily forgivable. With magnificent dancers, Tremor would be better.

All of the above sounds elitist and superficial. Perhaps it is. Dance is an elitist art with a superficial side. You wouldn’t expect Chess Grand Masters to be intellectually mediocre. Why should ordinary people of limited charisma and kinemetic gifts be performing artists?

The very subdued applause which greeted the end of Tremor suggests I was not alone in posing myself these questions.

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