Olivier Dubois – De l’origine
A dark scene. Two barely visible figures, in a field of indistinguishable black objects. With time we see that the objects are floppy and roughly human in shape. Dead bodies perhaps?
The two perform movements that I would barely describe as dance – more like crawling. This is accompanied by rumbling droning sound, somewhere in the borderland between music and industrial noise.
I’m no stranger to modern dance, and I don’t mind dark themes. But when I simply cannot see what it happening on the scene, I don’t find it “intensively mystifying and anguish-filled” (as a reviewer put it) but boring, plain and simple. The music, the lighting, the movements, the decor for this piece were all designed to give me a minimum of input, which is the definition of boring.
I can’t quite say it was contentless. There was definitely content and ideas and a message of some kind. It might be described as performance art perhaps, a philosophical commentary on life (or mostly death). But it was not dance, and it was not interesting.
The couple sitting next to us was so disappointed by the first piece that they left during the interval – so they missed the good part of tonight’s show.
Sharon Eyal – Half Life
A man and a woman near the front of the scene dance in one place. Their movements that are monotonous and strict, but also forceful and entrancing.
A group enters from the side of the scene. With minimal movements, barely moving forward, they approach the couple. When the group arrives, it encloses them and they become part of the group.
They are swallowed, but they survive. The rest of the piece is about the balance/opposition between the individual and the group.
The group and its movements swell and flow. One figure – a head taller than the rest – appears to be leading and subtly influencing them. Other dancers sometimes do something different but then return to the main flow. Are they forced to conformity by the group? Or are they experimenting and then returning to the comfort of the familiar?
The techno music is akin to the soundtrack for the first act, but this clearly actually music, and much more interesting. The dancers wear minimal skin-coloured costumes, which exposes their bodies as well as each distinct movement in Eyal’s exact, twisting choreography.
Half Life is absorbing and intense. Every moment is rich and beautiful. I can’t look away. I wish there was more of it
(Both photos are from the marketing material published by the Royal Opera.)