Melbourne International Arts Festival
State Theatre, The Arts Centre
15th– 17th October 2009
By Grace Edwards.
Seeing Sasha Waltz and Guests’ Körper is not an experience to forget. Conceptually mind-blowing and intellectually demanding, this 90-minute piece of dance theatre is an electrifying exploration of the human body.
Grappling with the physique’s strength and fragility, its possibilities and limitations, Körper presents a series of bodily re-imaginings. Waltz harnesses the interpretative powers of spoken word, stage design and its magnificent cast of dancers to astounding effect, at times emphasising the harsh geometry of the dancers’ limbs in demanding partnering and floorwork sections, at others illuminating the poetic beauty of human biology.
Simple but carefully orchestrated scenes highlight Waltz’s astute appreciation of detail. Dancers walking briskly forward in unison, chanting ‘yes’ over and over again, suddenly reverse backwards chanting ‘no’, drawing attention to the forward and backward momentum of decisions. They also recite and move to simple spoken monologues which toy with the relationship between real experiences of our bodies and our spoken representation of them.
One of the most memorable moments involved a cluster of essentially nude dancers weaving their physiques into the confines of a grid, their bodies sometimes suspended, sometimes touching. The dancers’ illuminated skin contrasted with the quiet blackened surrounds, their curved and intertwined trunks and extremities remaining at odds with the rectangular dimensions of the grid.
Be forewarned: Like all great art, Körper requires an open mind, imagination and a willingness to be confronted with the baffling. Leaving open limitless possibilities for interpretation, it requires its audiences to take from it what they will. For those who accept the challenge however, the rewards are bountiful.