BAKKHEIA – dancing on the edge
Three dancers partake in a chain reaction. They fall in and out of shapes, pausing for a moment, then repeat the same sequence. Their ensembles are a balancing act between dramatically charged syntheses and more brusque body arrangements in space. We follow them as they scatter on stage, playing with forms and gestures. Their body movement is spastic, deliberately chosen to refer to someone who has fallen into a trance. The music has a twofold quality as well: the soothing harmony of a cello alternating with beats, as if in a club. Suddenly everything shifts to a new direction: they approach the audience, gazing at or touching some of the members. This unprecedented proximity is at times overwhelming, at times unsettling. What probably aims to raise intimacy could easily be taken as an attempt to reverse the power of the looker. So, is it discomforting or pleasing?
It’s called BAKKHEIA – dancing on the edge. On the edge of what? For the most part, it doesn’t seem that edgy. Three performers clump together like a troika, bopping circuits around the stage like ravers at an all-nighter. They’re really into the rhythmic repetition of small actions – bounces, sways, jiggles, gestures – so that limbs and fingers poke out from the group, but never break it up. They recite fragments of speech, too, and fragments of text strafe the walls from an overhead projector. All this to a soundtrack that alternates club beats with Bach. Only towards the end do the dancers’ tremors begin to reach a degree of physical abandon. Then suddenly the atmosphere changes as they walk into the audience and eyeball us or sit on our laps, still twitching, jerking and (eew!) sweating. Now, yes, we are on the edge, and now, yes, there is an interesting, alienating dynamic. Still feels unearned, though.
Two girls and a boy, in what could be a club with neon blinking lights, loud electro music and trendy clothes. Three bodies that are trying to adjust to one another and struggling to communicate. Each one is caught up in his own task-like movements. And when an encounter occurs it’s as if the contact produces tiny electric shocks. It works as a trio but something always get stuck: a finger in one’s mouth, a movement repeated over and over, one body part colliding into another. They just do not click. The dancing in itself is deliberately sloppy, they try things that flunk. Where is all that going to, one wonders, until… The three performers join the audience, in their underwear, resting their sweaty and exhausted bodies upon us. Strong eye-contact, smiles and laughs result from the awkwardness of the situation. What began in a dance-club ends in a soft and quiet communion.