Embraced by the invisible hands of dance

Voices are all over the place. Tiny and giant, clear and hushed, lyrical, narrated and mumbled, whispered and yelled. Vocal expressions coming out for a deep breath before diving back into the sea of silence. Panta rei. Water is dripping. Drop by drop, splashing onto the rough, concrete block. The sound is dark until it becomes shiny bright, and the body movement follows with rhythmical, edgy, intense shifting.

These flashbacks come to my mind as a reflection on the soundtracks accompanying the performances presented at the Spring Forward festival.

And if I think visually?

A man is sitting on the chair alluding to the Rodin’s Thinker. He stands up and starts dancing, sliding through the space. Lights up the candle only to match its flame to the mechanical light from the corner. We see it as a dazzling laser line. And then – whoosh – dancer disappears. He is gone, vanished, swallowed by the ocean of smoke bellow the surface of a razor-sharp light. WOW! This was my first reaction to what I’d just seen on that stage. And from that point on, the special effects of the Vera Ondrašikova’s Guide continued to amaze me and make me wonder what is hidden behind the curtain of light.

Right then and there, while the special effects of the Guide blurred my powers of observation, I was launched into 20-shows-in-three-days rollercoaster ride called Spring Forward!

Along the way I caught myself contemplating the choreographers’ intentions and the viewers’ expectations; the first impressions, inner feelings, deeper meanings, and between-the-line readings; outspoken thoughts and untold truths; philosophical approaches, metaphyisical images, and phenomenological aesthetics. It was all there, in the shows and in the air.

We saw deeply personall and highly emotional pieces like Alessandro Schiattarella’s Altrove, Hege Haagenrud’s The Rest is Silence, Andreas Constantinou’s WOMAN, and Mithkal Alzghair’s Displacement, which questioned stereotypes, inequalities, mental struggles, physical abilities, interpersonal relations, individual and collective identities.

On the other hand, some of the performances turned out to be charming, humorous, subtle, dreamy, catchy, and associative. It felt like being warmly embraced by the invisible hands of the show while watching Žigan Krajnčan and Gašper Kunšek’s Alien Express, Kristin Helgebostad & Laura Marie Rueslåtten’s Me Too, László Fülöp & Emese Cuhorka’s Your Mother at My Door, and Renata Piotrowska-Auffret’s Death. Exercises and Variations.

And then, there were pieces that pushed the movement to the extreme, featuring improvisational interpretation, acrobatic outreach, ongoing demands, animalistic moves and primal screams. Such strong energy emerged from Botis Seva’s Reck, Daniele Ninarello & Dan Kinzelman’s Kudoku, Linda Hayford’s Shapeshifting, Jesús Rubio Gamo’s Bolero, and Satchie Noro & Silvain Ohl’s Origami.

All in all?

The young and emerging contemporary dance scene appears to be energetic, raw, risky, profound and challenging. Even positively disturbing in a way, as it pushes you out of your zone and makes you absorb with your eyes wide open. It urges you to think, rethink, question everything, and then think again. And then, sometimes, you can slow down, relax and enjoy the soft and tender, elegant, sensorial, and tactile side of the dance.

With afterthoughts full of powerful, impactful, meaningful, skilful, and playful outcomes of all the shows we witnessed, well, what can I say?

I was moved! Honestly, deeply, significantly moved.

Nadja Bozovic