When Adrienn Hód, Hungary’s most successful contemporary dance export, promises an experimental show, one really doesn’t know what to expect: after all, for many years now she hasn’t done anything other than experiment with the boundaries of theatre, performance, personality and the human body. In fact, Soft spot, created in collaboration with Slovak dancers Martina Hajdyla and Soňa Ferenčíková, is much less radical than most of the choreographer’s latest works.
Clad in simple black attire, the dancers’ heads and faces are covered with a piece of black cloth throughout, making it impossible to see their facial expressions or even tell them apart. They also wear masks that double as digital screens, projecting words (position, movement, tone, texture, colour ), phrases (matter of rhythm, the shape of void, the edge of comfort ) and fragments (we sit and watch, crashes strongly ) that might be used to describe a performance – perhaps in an article like this. To me, the most ominous one that comes back repeatedly is a simple, single word: meaning.
According to its creators, the piece plays with the blurring of human qualities and asks what defines us as humans – and yes, it’s all there, but to me it speaks of something entirely different too. At one point the screens are off the dancers’ faces and left behind at the edges of the stage – and suddenly every critic’s primal fear is manifested: words get literally detached from the action, phrases become empty, and I get the frustrating feeling that by trying to make sense of this, or of any show by way of words, I might miss the point completely. The hypnotically running words are now the only things clearly visible. Covered by cumulating smoke and dim lighting, the contours of the dancers are hard to make out as they move around in improvisational sequences. Relief comes when the fog fades, the eerie soundscape turns into gentle melody, the movement becomes more distinct, and the dancers put their masks back on before freezing in a final position.
I’ll stop here: not everything needs to be put into words.