In their colourfully dappled leotards, faces neutral but alert, cleanly lit and inclined on the floor, the four dancers of Andreas Hannes’ Warping Soul have an air of modernist, Merce Cunningham cool. But this is no investigation of space, time and sound; rather, one long, slow rise of energy. At first, the four simply lean from their seated axes. They gradually splay limbs, unfurling to upright, feet teetering and joints wobbling as they stretch to the tips of their toes. It’s as if gravity were still new to their bodies. Tentative spacewalks grow assertive: emerging from an ovum of light, they scatter and cluster, pile-driving stomps punctuating ricochets and runs.
All the while, a techno soundtrack has been rippling and rising, voices lifting up from electric arpeggios, beats building. With nowhere to go but up, the ending necessarily comes as a cut rather than a resolution, and though the dance may not be deep, it is deeply pleasurable: space-age beach birds bathing in a rising techno tide.
Four performers gently tilt their torsos while they observe the space around them. Are they looking for something? Perhaps the answers lie just within the body. Warping Soul evolves organically from an impulse to keep moving as a collective, no matter which direction it would take them. Synchronised routines, divergent solos, coming all together or tearing apart in each corner – the group organises its path in order to work as one.
Electronic beats set up the rhythm of a constant energy gain while dancers play around with their own plasticity – how malleably they can walk and how strongly they stand still on their toes. Their hips spin, legs are wide open, arms up in the air and they cross the space with electric sprints. Inside the tight jumpsuits, silhouettes of their human figures become something else: fierce creatures that underline how transformative movement can be.
Four dancers sitting on their folded legs and dressed in full-body painted leotards are placed at different points on the white stage. The atmosphere is felt through their upper bodies magnetising each other. When standing, they behave like uncoordinated automatons with human souls trapped inside distorted bodies that attempt to balance on their feet. The stage light turns them into overshadowed aliens that, as soon as they get grounded, they walk on the surface of an unknown planet where gravity pulls them towards its centre. The sound of shootings cracks their rigid shell and the dancers spasmodically release their trapped energy and manage to regain control of their muscles.
Andreas Hannes’s atmospheric and gradually building energetic dance piece is a 20-minute short performance that transfers us into an unnatural and humanless world which encloses its hunchbacked and awkward inhabitants.
Warping Soul resembles an art installation, poised for observation. Four subjects in translucent blue and pink catsuits and white trainers are knelt, spines slanted, and still. Almost. Minuscule twitches afflict them, skin spasms from distant magnetic pulls. Perhaps they are computers recharging, or an organic species simply breathing, just not like we do. But they look nauseous, and unluckily for them, a surging wormhole of synths is heard fast approaching.
Movement is less initiated than abruptly enforced. They stagger with wobbly heads as if learning to walk, abandon weight into bouncy, rebounding knees. Most dehumanising are the arms raised from the sides of their bodies like stabilising antennae. When silhouetted onto neon backdrops, their figures are awkwardly elegant. They become braver but explore space only in short bursts. The result is energetic limbo and disorientation, stuttering robots with jelly in their joints.
Imagine your AI discovers a techno rave, and the best part? The fuse is cut at the climax, and I want more.
The printed body tights alienate the four dancers kneeling on stage. Don’t move your eyes away from them as the upper body movement is extremely delicate and unexpected. They are somewhat new creatures cocooning in a forest. Slowly, they stand up and start walking, in a robotic manner.
Light changes and dancers become black silhouettes. Is that Plato’s Cave or Matisse’s Dance? Nevertheless, the movement remains both organic and mechanical and such sci-fi duality cannot exist without the strikingly fervent music. Music becomes louder and movement accelerates, the four creatures form collectively their identity, sort of evolutive convergence. The ending scene is remarkable with swaying arms in all directions: the next transition is on its way.
In Warping Soul, Greek choreographer Andreas Hannes manages to formulate a fascinating language in only 20 minutes. And our imagination just cannot stop…