Flow – An Illusion of Flowing Time


Look out of the window. Watch the falling leaves, thick fog, pedestrians wrapped up in scarves and jackets, tapping drizzle, occasionally interrupted by a gust of wind. And then blur this imaginary picture, embedded in your memory, with your finger so that all the colors merge. Close your eyes and imagine music suited to this scene. A simple melody on a natural basis. It keeps on spreading into one layer after another in an intangible, floating, melancholy way as soothing as a hot tea. When you open your eyes, falling leaves has stopped in mid air, but the figures started to dance. Slowly, quietly, peacefully, just like that. Over and over. Sometimes they meet, sometimes they split up, without violence, without contact, without necessity.

This is what the memory of the new production Flow by VerTeDance company feels like. But memories are like dreams, they often distort reality and emotions. Had you been out there, you would have been probably sick and tired of the decaying leaves very soon and all the cold and melancholy would have possibly tortured you to death in an hour. And in a similar way, the audience was split in two halves that evening. One that enjoyed the performance as a genre picture from behind the window, and the other one that experienced an extremely dull scenic reality. Because, watching several "number eight" movement patterns in all their conceivable forms and variations for an hour straight is an ordeal even for experienced contemporary dance audiences that would hardly sharpen their perception. It is not easy to empathize with the authors‘ poetics, tune in to their minimalist thinking and stay there motionless until the end.

Flow is what it pretends to be. It builds on the same principle that American postmodernism elaborated for contemporary dance in the seventies, making movement by gradually shifting the center of gravity and working with weight. It is a constant flux of movement, a flow of energy which pours from one side of the body to the other in endless variations. Its focused composition resembles various elements of martial arts. It is a river made of bodies of four dancers, who together "explore the relationship between the perception of time, hapiness, between continuation and the human ego." Helena Arenbergerová was convincing in her every movement, an aura of energy around her would not let the audiences fall asleep in a foolish hope that something might fin

ally happen at any moment. On the contrary, Veronika Knytlová performed a certain kind of personal meditation, watching her made the audiences doubt whether they actually had the right to watch her dance. The energy of Martina Hajdyla Lacová seemed to be played down a bit, as if her effort to appear roundish and gentle made her „switch off" her charisma and her performance resembled a puppet, left behind by the puppeteer. Jaro Ondruš balanced the ritual bustle with masculine element, which, however, was not employed here. He simply moved in tune with the others – whether willingly or not, one could not tell.

Director’s work is nowhere to be seen throughout the production, although his name is listed in the program (Jiří Havelka). This makes the absence of a choreographer even more poignant. An occasional change of lights (Katarína Ďuricová) somewhat redeems the dull transitions and motivates the audiences to come back from their thoughts to the action on stage. The stage design is what creates the basic mood of the work, apart from the installation made of leaves there are also caps of PET bottles and Hašlerky candy wrappers (Dragan Stojčevski). We can just believe that Flow should have been a movement exercise, a sketch of long ago discovered principles, a celebration of minimalism, conceptual art experiment or a quality live installation, which you could just come to see and watch the dancers with interest, rather than a po

pular dance production for a conventional theater.


A review of the premiere that took place on November 21st, 2016, at the Ponec Theatre.


Flow
Directed by: Jiří Havelka

Music: Beata Hlavenková
Lighting design: Katarína Ďuricová
Screenings: Martin Bražina
Premiere: November 21st, 2016

Translation: Tomáš Valníček

By: Lucie Hayashi
 
 

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