Q Dance Company
1℃ is, according to the programme note, ‘the temperature that draws a line between frozen suspense and the continuity of living’. Well, uh, okay. But that somewhat cryptic definition doesn’t help to make this South Korean female trio any more of a palatable or engaging experience. Choreographed by Kyuyeon JEONG, and performed by her, Hyo Kyung KIM and Suyeon LEE, the show puts a slightly geometric spin on athletic dance exercise. With their solid handstands, gazelle leaps and other signs of physical prowess, these young women are patently limber and fit. They stretch and twitch, or scuttle low like spiders across the floor. Their little explosions of action are contained by red bars of light framing the stage, and cued to a determined soundtrack of burble, throb and hiss. But, try as I might to invest myself in the performance, there simply was no compelling reason to give it much of my attention. A hard one to sit through.
Does any contemporary dance of today exclude curves over straight lines? 1℃ by Kyuyeon Jeong seems to take on the task. The piece is an almost clinical exploration of the tipping point between water as fluid and crystal, yet never really shifting beyond an ice-hard state. Red sticks hang from the ceiling like thermometers pulsated by light. The three women start out geckoing across the floor, while their upright sequences have the rhythm of a gymnastic routine. The throbbing soundtrack verges dangerously towards metronomic monotony, ticking away tediously. Even when the mood turns more playful, with athletic hurdle races and theatrical gestures, the physicality never loses its tightness. Jeong´s sharp, stick-figure choreography insists on an almost inorganic approach to movement through its angular limb architecture and geometrical shapes. Her inexhaustible exploration of the laws of physics left me drained, a condition quite undetectable in the steady performers.
A blood red torch leads the way into a piece which swims in a sea of unadressed references. Three shadows make their way into a space soaked in drone music. Bearing a highly achieved resemblance to objects placed on a conveyor belt, the performers crawl backwards, one body feeding in after the next. The movement sequences – again, highly achieved – change into what seems taken straight out of a handbook for contemporary dance.
We spot a rolling barbell, and plenty of other bars. We spot poles. But we mustn’t think of athletics, nor of training. The beauty of the performers’ physical abilities is the mother that kills her own children, for no perfectly extended leg timed to a minutious count will ever be able to shroud the void of an ailing dramaturgy. The audience’s gaze: A pushy parent? An assessor? Do we have to give marks? The piece’s aftertaste of showmanship is an example of how the drive to be excellent can easily make one blind to the need for artistry. The bar was set high in some areas of the performance, but unfortunately kept low in others.
1℃ starts strong. The first minutes of the performance resemble gloomy stop-motion film-like images, transforming into movement characterised by sudden drops to the floor and a resistance of the body against it. Sadly, soon after this my initial excitement slowly but steadily evaporated. The opening dynamic is overthrown by a choreography that is patently inspired by various sports disciplines, yet after a while resembles more a restless and flawlessly executed aerobics routine than an interesting co-existing of three bodies.
Although the dancers are incredibly capable and immaculately trained, I still can’t determine what was their actual relationship. The backbone of a storyline or dramatised concept was evident, yet unreadable. The same is valid for the interaction with such objects as long orange poles and faux sports equipment. Unfortunately, this whole parade of technique left me cold.