Cabraqimera, Catarina Miranda. © José Caldeira


Catarina Miranda

Skaters know a thing or two about momentum, and Portugal’s Catarina Miranda seemed well on the way to building some in the opening scene of Cabraqimera. On the darkened stage, all eyes were on the twinkling wheels of her quartet of roller skaters; in long, supple strokes, they started to layer on patterns, at one point linking arms and gliding like Swan Lake’s cygnets.

Yet just as they were hitting their stride, purple neon lights came on, and Cabraqimera went adrift. Structure gave way to isolated sequences and elements, set to a score that too often sounded like an arcade game having a psychotic episode. There is no denying the visor-clad performers’ abilities – one threw in a double-twisting jump, in between moonwalks and wide- legged heel splits. Harnessing them may be a tall choreographic order given the speed and constraints of roller skating, but trusting the work’s initial impetus would be a fine start.

Laura Cappelle

To the sound of wheels rolling and floorboards creaking, four silhouettes seem to speed skate in slow motion. Soon enough, rows of fluorescent tubes hovering above the stage reveals the anti-clockwise circling of four athletic performers. They glide across the stage like cyborgs, in pastel coloured, zebra-printed unitards, face-obscuring helmets and neon mouthguards. In this 1980s sci-fi-inspired, retro-futuristic world, choreographer Catarina Miranda chooses to keep the performers anonymous throughout the piece.

Even though the synchronicity, timing and technique of the rollerskating dancers are commendable, the choreography offers little for the performers to explore. The repetitive movements and matching soundscape create an invisible barrier that is difficult to break.

One part in the middle, where two dancers lie motionless on the floor as clouds of smoke swirl down from the ceiling, offers a small hint of human fragility. Apart from that, the stage seems to have transformed into a screen, where human connection is lost and we are stuck in a loop. 

Ingeborg Zackariassen

It does start promisingly: Four pairs of white neon-lit roller skates circle around a dark stage, seemingly unassisted. With repeated thumps, neon lights then brighten up the stage. We see that four performers, decked out in pink and blue tiger-striped latex, complete with memorable RoboCop-style sunglasses, were in fact attached to the skates. Alas, before we know it, we are trapped in a fever dream of neon-nostalgia.

The intensity of Cabraqimera is undeniable. Rolling at breakneck speed, we flip from one motif to the next. But it is hard to discern any motivation, any red thread. What is left is a furious montage of figure-skating dance aerobics on a 1980s disco roller rink.

Unexpectedly, a red fog transforms the stage into a B-grade horror movie set. The smooth rolling is replaced with a blend of frog-like hand gestures, and grimacing that reveals frightening green teeth. Finally, the last two robo-rollers embrace. The music dies down, and their oversized goggles touch each other gently.

Marína Srnka