Le Récital des Postures
Le Récital des Postures uncovers the impressive physical range of Yasmine Hugonnet, at first moulding herself into unexpected sculptural forms. The beauty of her folded and unfolded naked body is its fascinating inverted logic. It’s an exercise of control. Her seemingly stable balances, embedded with almost imperceptible movement, is where the poetry resides. A variety of characters start to emerge from Hugonnet’s body – new sculptures but now in a more human form, with moustache, horns or ears illustrated by her long, origami-like hair. Caricatured walking, mechanically swinging hips or loosely hanging limbs turn her into a comic puppet. In the end we observe a lone, still figure sitting in a spotlight, contained and still sculptural, accompanied by a fragile voice speaking directly to us. It’s not a voiceover but Hugonnet herself demonstrating her capacity as a ventriloquist. Such is her control that she can erase the movement of her own lips – or are we hearing the body’s inner voice dominating the dancer?
Muted physical shifts, inverted twists and dehumanised poses: Le Récital des Postures guides us through a sleek metamorphosis of fleeting images. Yasmine Hugonnet is a pre-meditated puppet of body parts until her understated clothing is abandoned. She then proposes a new generation of mutation in which images – art deco sculpture, troll dolls, neoclassical forms – are up for grabs. In this territory Hugonnet determines the rules, even to the point where she sashays offstage for a sip of water. She chooses when to adopt two-dimensional, Egyptian-style poses and then desert them. Her unashamed visage and theatrical use of her hair are more exposing than her nudity; they seem to say, ‘Welcome to my domain… Enjoy! Or don’t.’ As Hugonnet says through an unforeseen display of ventriloquism, ‘We are going to dance together.’ The offer is ironic and the performance itself… striking.
Is she lying on her back or on her belly? Is she woman or man, the Faune or an alien? Is she speaking or is it a recording? Yasmine Hugonnet keeps us in suspense in Le Récital des Postures. Her body floats in a white space, metamorphically shape-shifting at first in micro-motion then at a speeded-up pace. While still clothed, long hair camouflaging her face, she plays illusionist games with basic bodily forms. As she gradually removes her clothes Hugonnet’s physical abstractions are filled with associations, and she starts jumping in and out of different characters. (Some are inspired by dance history; I recognised a glimpse of Nijinsky.) Completely unexpectedly, she transforms herself into a ventriloquist! Ultimately what began as a somewhat predictable display of sculptured flesh and bone takes us to a most surprising place.
In the minimalist, slow-burn and soundtrack-free Le Recital des Postures Yasmine Hugonnet occupies a pristine white arena, gradually shedding grey/black garb to expose pink flesh. She’s like some esoteric human alphabet, or an architect showcasing the textures, shapes and shades of a body (beautifully lit by Dominique Dardant) that belongs to her and her alone. Hugonnet’s initially demanding rigour and exemplary muscle control segue into the kind of wayward wit that subverts all expectations. Nude on her back and with feet in the air, she grasps between her toes her long black hair. Funny walks, undulant or Nijinsky-flat, eventually help to lead this Swiss-based soloist into a downstage spotlight and a cone-headed, moustachioed finale that – surprise – turns Hugonnet into her own ventriloquist. Weird and wonderful in equal measure, her 39-minute piece was an unexpected pleasure.