Julidans in Amsterdam wants, among other things, to be a place of opportunity – both for emerging dance artists, who find it a daring, big partner to help them outgrow their local context; and for those not necessarily bold audience members who can venture beyond their comfort zone on board of this cleverly curated ten-day trip.
For Anita van Dolen, festival director since 2011, one of the strategies to open up the festival in this way is Julidans NEXT, a series of solos by emerging artists at the “Upstairs” studio of the Melkweg, a well-known concert hall neighbouring Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (ITA), the festival’s core venue. Each NEXT performance is paired up with a bigger name shown at ITA right after. For example, in this edition Oona Doherty’s Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus [reviewed by Springback contributor Claire Lefèvre here and by Springback Academy graduate Lucia Fernandez here] was linked to Session, a danced encounter between Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Riverdance hero Colin Dunne – a shared Irishness here being the excuse to attract the less experienced audiences to a blind date at the Melkweg Upstairs.
Thus, this small black box space with retractile stands is offered to upcoming choreographers as a chance to show themselves without fuss, in often bare and relatively short performances. This year, Julidans NEXT turned out to be a celebration of the value of individual stage presence: the performers stole the show.
Berlin-based Greek artist Kat Válastur presented Rasp Your Soul, a solo danced by enticing Italian performer Enrico Ticconi. We first see him lying on the floor, bathing under a small light from different angles. He doesn’t move, the light does – and with it, our perception of him. This captivating image is the prelude of all that is to come: an hour-long exploration of a physical quality. As if half-struck by constant zapping, fighting with tensions within his body, Ticconi moves over the floor, then across the space. At moments, he sputters out words which – digitally modified – distance him further from a flesh-and-blood character. In his breaking and rebooting we recognise some of the poses: Narcissus looking at his own reflection, or Saint Sebastian, arrows and all.
Ticconi is turned into a meme, an iconic avatar of several (sur)faces. Maybe a sad vision of what will be left of our cultural heritage in years to come? But for all his efforts and his captivating presence on stage, the choreographic idea is stretched out for too long. Timing, sometimes, really is everything.