Anne-Marie Van (Nach)
It starts with photos and the sounds of riots. The unevenly painted surfaces of the set inject an atmosphere of urban decay. Then Nach materialises in lighting that shadows her features, a vivid reminder how faceless a black person is in the white norm.
Her chest pops are crisp and precise. In Nach’s body the language of krump speaks loud and clear. Her work is easy to follow because she has made very conscious choreographic decisions. Rudimentary lightning equipment, including neon tubing, is used in impressively economical fashion. Only a final video projection (Nach in the nude) disturbs the overall aesthetics with its softness.
Cellule is powerful, intelligent choreography. Nach’s movement throughout is honest and deliberate. Her unapologetic physique is naturally and strongly grounded, and in a way that many dancers can only dream of. But even more importantly, as a performer she is utterly genuine.
Krump, the urban dance style at the heart of Cellule, is drenched in a legacy of black anger. Channelling this sort of energy onstage poses a huge challenge, and Nach’s first solo just kills it.
First seen in the shadows, we come to know her as an androgynous avatar summoning a collective right to be. Dressed in a 90’s-style baggy jacket, she smacks the air, breathing loudly in front of projected images of black activists. This is a tense and daring body, not to be messed with. One foot hits the floor, sharply: “I am here”. Yet when she eventually reveals her face we are disarmed by the paradox of her youthful vulnerability.
The use of a cellphone’s torch, and the DIY webcam-video of Nach’s nude body, speak from and to a generation. Unpretentious and daring, this self-exposing solo turns anger into hope. More of this, please
Krumping is only a part of Anne-Marie Van’s revelatory Cellule. Yes, this French dance artist (aka Nach) is a fiercely skilled street dancer with an explosively coiled energy. But her intimate solo incorporated many other internal and external elements, plus a range of moods and poetic sensations or associations. Photographic images of (mainly) young urban black men are projected onto panels that, later, hold brief film footage of Nach facing the camera. Live, she strips down to underclothes and oozes to a Nina Simone track in white neon light. Bathe in red light, she unabashedly revels in her strong, black female body. Her honesty, grace and vulnerability transcend narcissism. What’s more, our presence has been very much considered. It may be that not all the context for this unexpectedly moving performance is fully developed. No matter. Head to toe Nach is simply, quietly, fabulously magnetic.