Photo from Coexist by Hodworks and Unusual Symptoms

REVIEW

Hodworks & Unusual Symptoms: Coexist

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Coexist, a collaboration between Hodworks (HU) and Unusual Symptoms (DE). Photo © Jörg Landsberg
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Lena Megyeri
Fearless performers brace themselves in a questing, questioning work by Hodworks (HU) and Theater Bremen (DE)

There has been a certain structural pattern in Hodworks’ latest productions: Sunday, Mirage and now Coexist all open with a longer, heavily text-based (or at least vocal) introductory part before turning into a dance extravaganza. It looks like the performers need a lot of time to brace themselves before they can actually start dancing. Of course, the inspirations behind each piece vary, but they are never short of absurdity.

A collaboration between Hodworks and Bremen-based dance company Unusual Symptoms, Coexist plays with spectators’ expectations towards contemporary dance – not for the first time in choreographer Adrienn Hód’s oeuvre. In the first part, the dancers perform short, numbered solos (often with different degrees of nudity), dedicating each one to someone or something when they finish. These dedications either strengthen or reinterpret our first impression of the scenes. For example, a female dancer’s naked solo with a cowbell on her neck gets a new meaning by being dedicated to her children. Another nude scene, with the body mostly covered up by a suitcase, is dedicated to censorship, which just adds to the sarcastic effect. There are dedications to penguins, Rudolf Laban, our ancestors, tradition, a dancer’s father, people who like nudity and many more.

Slowly, the solos turn into a commotion where the performers act like robotic dolls and organise each other into obscene statues, while someone recalls questionable choreographic methods from the rehearsals (another of Hód’s recurrent self-reflective motifs). Finally, the ‘actual dancing’ starts – and while it’s technical and well choreographed, it’s clearly not meant merely for aesthetic pleasure. Rather, it’s a bit uncanny, especially in pairing with Ábris Gryllus’ haunting score, based on constantly repeated words like ‘intimidate’, ‘forgive me’ or ‘calm down’.

Both Hodworks’ and Unusual Symptoms’ dancers are fearless and fiery performers in this piece, but two of the choreographer’s permanent co-creators stand out: Jessica Simet with her gut-wrenching emotional transformations, and Csaba Molnár with his vicious sense for acting and comedy.

The bottom line: Adrienn Hód continues to investigate the unpleasant and unnerving sides of being a contemporary dancer – or their spectator
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Trafó House of Contemporary Arts, Budapest, Hungary. Reviewed 8 November 2019
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Choreography: Adrienn Hód / Artistic Collaboration: Csaba Molnár / Costume & Stage Design: Anna Lena Grote / Music: Ábris Gryllus / Dramaturgy: Gregor Runge / Assistance: Andy Zondag / Artistic Consultation: Ármin Szabó-Székely / Production Management: Alexandra Morales, Ágnes Básthy / By & with: Aaron Samuel Davis, Gabrio Gabrielli, Nóra Horváth, Alexandra Llorens, Csaba Molnár, Nora Ronge, Andor Rusu, Jessica Simet, Young-Won Song, Antonio Stella / Produced by: Theater Bremen, Hodworks / Supported by: Goethe-Institut (International Coproduction Fund), Conrad Naber Stiftung, Workshop Foundation / Coproduced by: Trafó House of Contemporary Arts

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