Lessons of Touch: Intimacy on Stage

The Tantehorse company have again caught the eye of the audiences. This time by - in their own words – an experiment concerning human intimacy on stage. What a paradox! A performer stands on an empty stage, naked, the spotlights pointing directly at him as well as hundreds of pairs of watchful eyes in the auditorium. It is simply not a favourable place for any exploration of one’s own body or of other bodies. But the director of Lessons of Touch, Miřenka Čechová, and the guest choreographer Jiří Bartovanec proved the opposite. Power of performers This creation owes its success to the performers. The principal guide through the many corners of the human organism is the bewitching Radim Vizváry. In his opening solo, he deforms and explores his half-naked body in many different ways - he kneads his skin, hits his belly, licks his own arms, tries to be absorbed into the wall and does not omit to explore his intimate body parts. He’s going full blast and engages some spectators, too, in order to seek the borderline of mutual interaction. Vizváry’s gradating exhibition of experiences is frozen when the other performer spills a bucket of icy water over him. The piece proceeds smoothly to another “lesson of touch”, this time even multiplied. The solo changes into a duet offering innumerable possibilities of searching for one’s self- respect and for limits of self-esteem. Vizváry is joined by a lady who is normally seen in the auditorium. Stepping on stage, the ethereal and fragile-looking dance critic Nina Vangeli turns into an incredibly charming and powerful performer. She seems calm and even, like the Snow Queen she checks the audience with penetrating eyes and abounds with physical vitality. It is fascinating how, at the beginning, she lets herself be manipulated and tossed to and fro. But she owes nothing to Vizváry. The dominating roles within the couple flows from one partner to the other, like sand in the desert, as well as the electrifying emotions.Taking off the knee-stocking has the same effect as complete nakedness, but it is tasteful. The duet constitutes the most powerful element of the piece as it offers many surprising points. Do you want to join us? As the programme suggests, the last part of the show involves the audience as well. You don’t have to be afraid of being picked, unprepared, to join the performers on stage. Non-dancers and non-actors who wanted to try what it was like to be on stage, could apply for this opportunity, based on their own decision. At the premiere in NOD, there were nine of them. And probably not by accident, seven out of these nine were in their early fifties. At the end of the piece, they were creating diverse formations, pairs and situations, which, however, could be well observed as parallel images. Unfortunately, neither individually nor together could the formations match the intensity of the previous duet. As if aware of this asymmetry, the authors engaged again Vizváry and Vangeli. A tiger, blood and a surprise ending which accurately stressed the character of our time – we reveal the most intimate things every day, maybe not in front of an audience, but surely on social networks. Lessons of Touch is really an interesting experiment that will move you by its intensity. The crude atmosphere of naked walls of NoD, simple but stylish lights and music (or rather amplified sounds of the bodies moving on stage) perfectly becomes this piece.  The first two thirds are breath-taking, thanks to the charismatic performers – you just need to be rather thick-skinned and prepared for everything which is the case or most people coming to see dance and physical theatre performances nowadays. Once again, applause for Tantehorse! Written from the premiere held on 6 October 2015, at the Experimental Space NoD, Prague. Lessons of Touch Concept and direction: Miřenka Čechová
Choreography: Jiří Bartovanec 
World premiere: 6 October 2015

Translation: Tereza Cigánková

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