Presented with Dance Horizons
Artistic Direction by Nicolò Abbattista
Frequent champions of dance and movement, the Edinburgh-based Dance Horizons continues to introduce diverse UK and international artists to Scottish audiences. Frequently a compendium of varying artists and creatives, tonight finds Dance Horizons present a more accomplished and certainly more structured trio from Lost Movements – the Italian dance company founded by Nicolò Abbattista, in collaboration with Christian Consalvo.
This evening’s programme features a trio of works from the company, and what they may differ in intention or structure – they share an emanating sense of determination and captivating patina and physical prowess. A taster of things to come but maintaining as much structure as the following pieces, Choreographer Nicolò Abbattista’s nine-minute Teseo transcends the span of 2,000 years in under ten minutes in a brief, but remarkably astute piece which questions our evolving nature – and how much of the self can exist with constant re-invention.
It comes from the Ship of Theseus, the classical idiom of replacing components of a ship until all original elements are gone. Is it still the same vessel or now an entirely new being? Teseo takes the symbology of the physical into the mortal, projecting into The Studio the questions surrounding our changes in psychological, spiritual, and physical change. With music from Paul Tinsley, Enrico Luly has a surprisingly gentle nature to their movement, yet still forthright and very physical in command.
Gradually, as the lighting is stripped down to the bare minimum, Luly becomes no more than a silhouette – nude, open to the world in its purest form. The flickering numbers of a film reel offer the audience the only source of light. A compact piece, Teseo says everything required within the timespan, and it serves no purpose to stretch it out: a canny demonstration of movements’ ability to condense narrative, and in this case 2000 – year old ideas to a manageable showcase.
The evening’s second piece occurs in a realm where the concept of homosexuality is denied existence: the football pitch. Given the first production’s use of male nudity, this follow-up routine is a fitting succession structurally, a duet which ‘dares’ to challenge a status quo attached to the ‘beautiful game’ in which two men from opposing teams who collide in The Studio space and merge in a dance which showcase an aggressive competitiveness which allows for a richer understanding of one another, and an undeniable desire.
There’s as much a match occurring between these men as there is on the pitch itself. A coming together of initial aggression, which blossoms into a thunderous demonstration of inescapable eroticism – the more it is denied, the more truthful and ardent it becomes. Christian Consalvo’s dramaturgy is evident throughout – O is as much a piece of theatre as it is dance, Manolo Perazzi and Gioele Cosentino channelling unspoken dialogue between the two men with their eyes as equally their bodies.
Narcissism and stigma become the overwhelming catalysts of consequence and pain, each individual’s search for identity (self and sexual) is cast down and salvaged too late in the pairing. Abbattista’s frantic cha-cha hybrid is catapulted in pacing and eroticism by Goldmund, Yma Sumak’s musical scoring of the piece – the strongest this evening in terms of audio usages to aid in storytelling. It’s sweaty, intense, and a rallying anthem against the persisting rally of homophobia in the sporting world.
Following the intermission, a breather away from the intensity of the initial act is a requiem from director and choreographer Nicolò Abbattista possesses no words – though as the piece progresses, expressions of glee and intensity from the performers are inevitable in this lovely piece. Taking a matriarchal turn from the prevailing masculine, POPoff closes out Lost Movement’s intense evening with a frantic crescendo which builds as a part of an ensemble pizzica, reaching a critical – exhilarating burst of emotional rebirth and fertility. It calls with a thunderous voice of movement: this is a tradition which piledrives its way into the world – a chaotic cauldron of life and death, paradoxically serine and hectic. Its enthusiasm explodes with fervour, where the initial dribbles of pain become a chorus outspoken to freedom, enjoyment, and evolution. Where the preceding performances capture snapshots of life, POPoff is life.
Unlike many in the UK, the ritualistic power of food, its place in our lives as more than sustenance, emanates throughout the performance. The flour offers an intense, primaeval symbol, tossed more and more into the air as a representation of plenty, of fertility and tying the taranta even close to nature. It’s as fine a closing routine as any could hope for, a piece of movement which lifts the audience out of their preconceptions of contemporary dance – and into a realm of joy and appreciation. It’s a solid conclusion to an engaging and interesting trio from Lost Movements – and a reminder of the tireless efforts of Dance Horizons to broaden the scope and impression of the medium to Scottish audiences.