There was this wonderful feeling of having been on a journey somewhere together. “The Beach” is a special place.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Sometimes one is just blown away by a theatre piece. This happened to me last night with CIE I.D.A. and Mark Tompkins last night. Their piece has a rather silly title “Opening Night – A Vaudeville”. Theortically it’s billed as light entertainment and performance art, two of my least favorite genres. Normally performance art is under rehearsed claptrap by imperfect and sloppy technicians of modest charisma who are convinced the world rotates around their navels.
In other words performance art is an unadulterated fiasco which has poisoned the dance world and taken it over, as the less capable outnumber and outvote the properly trained as conteporary dance slips down a long greasy rail into ramp amateurism.
At least that’s what I thought until I saw Tompkins and his French partner Mathieu Grenier perform last night.
Both gentleman are gifted singers and very capable actors. For much of “Opening Night” they sing a cappella together. In the Broadway or musical genre which provided the basic for their performance piece, both would likely be able to find and hold serious roles. These men take their craft seriously. Both are very funny but they do not camp it up with sniggers to the audience as so many of our new “funny” performers do. No Tompkins and Grenier pack their material thick with meaning and absurdity and power through it relentlessy, leaving audiences a bridge deck of questions to solve.
One of their songs includes throwaway lines which are not so throw away – “how life ebbs and flows”. A Vaudeville turned out to be a matter of life and death, the fragility of life.
The Burgtheater Vestibule is a great place for a nightly outdoor party. When the weather is good, a large part of the party can be outside.