In Times of Corona, Visit a Lion’s Den
To engage with an online performance is no easy task for me; I miss the feeling of being with the dancers – and the dancers being with me. However, the recorded version of The Lion’s Den managed to grab me and pull me through the screen from the very first moment. Sabina Bočková and Johana Pocková are standing on stage while the audience enters the theatre, and from that moment the connection is unbreakable. Aside from the artist’s powerful presence, it is noticeable that a lively relation with the audience has been trained, and one gets the distinct sense of being addressed.
Seizing simple body gestures and a rave-like motion, this duet embodies a creature to which many of us could feel related. Two women, dressed in corporate outfits, depend on each other to move and communicate. They manipulate each other using contact improvisation, traveling through a scenario where a line divides a binary universe: the passive from the active, the individual from the co-operative, the serious from the fun. Gestures, facial expressions, and signs, become political and cultural statements. While interpretations of this piece can be various, there is nonetheless a clear effort to pinpoint social issues, as well as neoliberal expectations on individuals, and even the role of social media in our understanding of the world.
Accompanied by Lukáš Palán’s vivid and live music, plus a minimalist lighting design, the lioness-creature reaches ecstatic and sober states. How pleasant it is to encounter an optical illusion – as a two-headed being – without the need of ostentatious resources. I will always value an impressive performance that has been built up from simplicity; it reveals resourcefulness, and a skilful ability to create.
Although The Lion’s Den first premiered in 2019, this is not the first collaboration of this team. They have worked together for a few years in the Czech company Pocketart, developing a common artistic language and, moreover, a physical connection – which is essential for the physicality of this piece. In addition, Bočková and Pocková have a background in ballet and modern dance, yet the mark of their company – and particularly of The Lion’s Den – goes in a more independent direction. Such a combination becomes enjoyable as the physical awareness upgrades the execution of their ideas.
Apart from the feeling that the piece might have been a little too long, The Lion’s Den is a den worth visiting. The mixture of minimalism, social criticism, and a well-achieved interaction with the audience triggers the need to stand, shout, and dance – even if you are alone on the other side of the screen.
Review written during the workshop Writing about Dance (in the Time of Corona), organised by Dance and Performing Arts Criticism in Europe, supported by EEA Grants 2014-2021.
The Lion’s Den
Concept, choreography, performing: Johana Pocková, Sabina Bočková
Music: Lukáš Palán
Dramaturgy: Viktor Černický
Light Design: Eliška Kociánová
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- Emerging critics