‘I think the repetitive elements and the whiteness of the space were part of a wave,’ says Moreno when I meet the pair a couple of days later, but it’s another quality that he identifies as key: vulnerability. They put themselves in a place of fragility to create a place of empathy for the audience. ‘I’m not looking for an experience as a performer,’ he explains. ‘It’s about opening up a channel with the audience.’
Indeed, the sense of risk inherent in so much jumping, and performing action while jumping – however unfazed the two performers seem to be – carries with it a strong sense of vulnerability. In a stripped-back piece focusing on detail and diversion, even the act of pouring a drink into a shot glass becomes imbued with a breathless tension. It is testament to the performers’ control over such tension that Igor bouncing off stage and returning, triumphant, with four more bottles for the audience, elicits a spontaneous cheer. At its heart, Idiot-syncrasy is a remarkably kind work: the performers appear to care for, and be interested in, their audience, and in return the audience summon a great deal of care, sympathy and engagement.
‘Care is an element we work with,’ Igor adds. ‘Not being careful, but caring. We have to invite people into a vulnerable place without putting ourselves in a dangerous place.’
Nothing illustrates this more clearly than the gracefully managed switch from humorous and direct to a complex, darker and more intimate mood. After the audience has grown so used to the hopping and bobbing, the introduction of spins, sweeping arms and legs swinging through interrupted lines feels surprisingly intense. Having set up the ground rules, Igor and Moreno break them, bringing their audience with them into an exploration of synthesis and attachment that has a quality of subversion.
‘People come to watch the piece for different reasons. Every audience member will bring their own baggage. It’s a mirror for people who are watching.’ They see a lot of value in this – it allows for more possibilities, for a freer emotional and intellectual reaction. Many people come away feeling they have watched a piece ‘about’ a romantic relationship. Critic Nicholas Minns saw the ‘effort and grind of generations in [the Basque region and Sardinia] to achieve and maintain their goal of political autonomy’. Our editor Sanjoy Roy was reminded of being a fraternal twin, a dual relationship that’s both given and filled with minute-by-minute negotiation. Me? I felt I had watched the dance equivalent of Sheila Heti’s question How Should a Person Be?, as two men cut from very similar cloth offered versions of selfhood and ways of being before turning towards one another to share their similarities.
Was it hard to move on from such a popular piece? They were keen not to make Idiot-Syncrasy all over again: there is, Igor explains, an important different between developing their own language and understanding their own interests and practice, and simply repeating what they know works. Their subsequent works both used a strong element of repetition, but A Room for All Our Tomorrows (2015) saw them yelling non-stop for the first 20 minutes, while their 2017 quartet Andante explored synaesthesia between sound, sight and smell. Currently they are creating their next piece, with the working title Can’t – a solo for another dancer, which will have its initial showcase in early 2019.
In the meantime, Idiot-Syncrasy continues jumping. ‘We’re interested in performing it, but we’re not going crazy overbooking it!’ says Igor. ‘It’s still a challenge and it’s still relevant. What we were trying to say then, we’re still trying to say now.’
‘I don’t think we would have made it as we are now, but it is still important to us,’ says Moreno. ‘Some older work can feel like it was made by a different person, but not this.’ In a rapidly changing world filled with confusion, uncertainty and distrust in the figures we have elected to care for us, it is a quiet relief that such a resonant piece about care continues to open that direct line of communication between Igor, Moreno and us. ●