Francesca Foscarini and Andrea Costanzo Martini instruct us in a simple game that makes us accomplices in the work: at the word ‘dark’ we are to close our eyes and when we hear ‘light’ open them again. You listen better with your eyes closed, as the soft sounds of their bodies define the space. In the search for togetherness they respond to each other’s movements, shifting through all corners of the space and connecting with their eyes. Sometimes a light smile flickers through. They come close to the audience, staring at and even almost touching those of us in the first row. Then they drift away again. You’re swept along on an engaging journey culminating in a wild improvisation session that ends with sudden darkness and silence. The lights come back on and we’re left with an empty space, an echo of the gentle yet energetic intimacy we experienced.
Let me introduce you to the unpredictable playground of a performance, Vocazione all’Asimmetria. Dressed in pale-coloured clothes, Francesca Foscarini and Andrea Costanzo Martini are onstage waiting for us with embracing gazes. They steer our involvement in the show, cueing us when to close and open our eyes, so that from the start we’re an active part of the action – like a collective third dancer. Foscarini has constructed a piece in which a direct and playful attitude shape the shell. Inside it she uses a familiar physical alphabet to present quick sentences of reinvented movement. She and Martini are like two naughty children rubbing their faces, sticking out tongues, jumping and clapping. Progressively they explore their bodies with their fingertips, isolating their limbs, rolling about and making speed-lightning gestures. A rough, noisy musical finale suits perfectly the duo’s magnetic presence until an ecstatic crescendo, followed by a blackout and silence. Everything’s gone, and we are alone.
A male dancer (Andrea Costanzo Martini) is observing the audience as we enter. Soon we’re being asked to close and open our eyes every time we hear the words “dark” and “light”. A duet then develops between him and his female counterpart (Francesca Foscarini) in bits and pieces that interrupt each other. In an attempt to involve the audience they face us in short moments of silence, indulging in Marina Abramovic-style eye-to-eye gazing. The many directions the performance takes off on, though, seem to be in conflict with each other. Highly original movement is lost among more traditional, yet well-executed, synchronised choreography. An incident of screaming seems forced and out of place; using looping to create soundscapes is a nice effect but is not in tune with the recorded music. It seems as if the show hasn’t decided what it wants to achieve but instead contains the seeds for several different choreographic pieces.
The bright space Francesca Foscarini and Andrea Costanzo Martini occupy is charged with expectation. These wayward grown children are ready to have us witness 35 minutes of quirkily physical fun and games. Perceptually we play a small part: when one or the other says ‘dark’ we’re meant to close our eyes, opening them only when we hear the word ‘light.’ There’s plenty to see as the pair tremble and stretch, fold themselves over or shake their heads as if to rattle their brains. Faces are likewise expressive as their owners stride, flap and finger-wriggle. In their oblique, demented cool they’re like exhilarated human lizards determinedly plunging off a shared deep end. But there’s something strangely mechanical about them; when they stare at us the gaze is direct, yet reveals little or nothing. The score is dramatic, reverberant and, towards the joyous end, repellently loud. Divisions between light and dark, or so it seems, are blown away when you try to break the rules.