[Dance Review] Innovative Adoration

Bosque Adora
Rocío Molina (with Eduardo Guerrero and Fernando Jiménez)
27 October 2017
Esplanade Theatre
27–28 October 2017

The conflict between the purists and innovators in dance is a long one that crops up in any genre. Had both sides shared a box during Rocío Molina’s Bosque Adora, they will be confused… in a good way.

Conceptually, the rituals of hunting and mating, and the dynamics between the masculine and feminine are staple themes. Additionally, fans of Molina’s usual abstract approach to flamenco would be surprised by the almost linear progression of her work.
Yet, the work is far from letting the general audience shouting olé at the end of each segment, or the aficionados from clapping the rhythms of the dance. So far, in fact, that we find ourselves in the heart of a forest, after watching an intricate film of Molina racing across the landscape on horseback before being thrown off while she tried to cross the river.

From there, she emerges as an enigmatic and long-snouted vixen, with a mask on the top of her head. A British counterpart likens it to the Teumessian fox. Be it a mythical animal that cannot be caught, or a sleek and alluring animal, this patch of land is clearly hers, and she easily dominates the men (Eduardo Guerrero and Fernando Jiménez). This starts the process of hunting, seduction, mating, hangover, solitude, and being hunted.

Throughout the 90 minutes, Molina employs a movement vocabulary influenced by modern dance, cabaret, flamenco and many others. But rather than cautiously picking out certain things based on genre, her allegiance is to what she is trying to convey.
Even within the flamenco idiom, she is keen to push the envelope by breaking body lines, flexing one’s feet, and having an echo audio effects that would annoy any purist who believes that rhythm is the heart of flamenco.

All these culminate in a thrilling display of corporeal virtuosity that evokes the animalistic nature in all of us. This is complemented by her fellow dancers. Eduardo Guerrero is a suave feline on the prowl, while Fernando Jiménez emanates strength and machismo. Molina manipulates them by straddling the former and snatching an orange from the latter’s mouth, but she soon finds herself entangled in a power play—the hunter and the hunted are both sides of the same coin.

If the dancers are the main course, the music is the sauce. The trombones, electronic effects, and percussion dominate the first half, which create a heady atmosphere for the rituals of hunting and mating taking place. The percussion also adds to the hypnosis when Pablo Martín Jones adds gamelan-like quality to the sound by playing various rhythms with the instruments scattered on the floor. The lilt of the guitar comes in the second half which eases the tension slightly and brings us back to familiar ground.

While the dream that we are thrown into ends abruptly in the final scene, one leaves the theatre with a pleasant hangover; unsure of what just happened, but ever so ready to be thrown back into the forest again.

Other Review

“Bosque Ardora (Forest Worship) – review” by Stephanie Burridge, FiveLines

Interview

“Rocío Molina ‘my work is intuitive’, interview” by Ezekiel Oliveira, FiveLines

[Dance Review] A Dazzling Constellation of Bodies

NDT2

An Evening of Five Works
Nederlands Dans Theater 2
9 October 2015
Esplanade Theatre
9–10 October 2015
Part of da:ns Festival 2015

The youth wing of Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) graces the Esplanade stage again with five fresh works which premiered within the last five years.

The programme opens with “Schubert and Some Other Time” by Sol León and Paul Lightfoot. In Schubert, the choreographic duo mirrors the motifs of the music by creating motifs of angular and flowing actions that extend throughout the pas de deux. While it is an exploration of love, it refuses to fall into extremities. What unfolds is a meditative rumination of love that is enhanced by the beautiful lines and perfect control of the dancers.

Despite the monochromatic set design of “Some Other Time”, León and Lightfoot colour their dance with various movement vocabularies such as mime, contemporary, and ballet. The dancers are tasked to embody the feelings of oppression and breaking free set against screens being pushed around the stage which adds another layer of movement. The dancers showed superb versatility and flexibility as they coalesce into a constellation of bodies. At times, it is hard to pick out which represents oppression and which freedom because—apart from being too transfixed by the dancers—what constitutes either sometimes depend on one’s perspective.

Sharon Eyal’s and Gai Behar’s “Sara” opened the second segment as several dancers appear in nude tights while pulsating to trippy music. The set up consists of one girl mouthing the words of a song while the others forming a series of pseudo-tableaus but each dancer repeats a particular action like a cog in a machine. This is interspersed with synchronised movement sequences.  It is surprisingly wonderful that Eyal mentions that “[i]t springs from the subconscious, but is very humane at the same time” because there is a primal quality that emanates from the piece. Sara eludes any intellectual interpretation but there is a sense of it coming from a deep place in oneself that is seldom the focus of introspection.

To be able to seek and achieve mutual comfort requires a great deal of interaction. Edward Clug’s “Mutual Comfort” is like a physics experiment of how one body reacts when it comes into contact with another. The dancers handle the technical demands with aplomb and the crispness of their lines is something to behold. This piece presents the facets of human interaction at its most beautiful.

NDT 2 pulled out all the stops to ensure that the show ends with a bang. Cue dazzling lights, sixteen dancers, synchronised movement sequences, and baroque music at its most dramatic. These elements come together to form an extravagant presentation of…

“Cacti”.

An earlier review of this piece says that Alexander Ekman’s ability to be genuinely funny through the medium of dance is an achievement. Unfortunately, that sentiment is myopic. Ekman’s genius lies in the ability to satirise one’s art form and yet the audience will still takes what he is doing seriously after having a good laugh. Cacti is a riot of fun which showcases not only the physical abilities of the dancers, but their creativity as well. The voiceovers which include a monologue expounding on a supposedly profound fact and the running commentary of the silliness of the dance moves show how the production elements can really enhance the dance. More importantly, it also boasts of the dancers’ non-kinetic talents.

Rather than just being a showcase of five recent works, NDT 2 offers an exposition of the potentials of contemporary dance and the human body. One can only hope they formulate their next exposition as soon as possible.

Other Reviews

“Nederlands Dans Theater 2’s Five Works closes with a work that is profound and humorous” by Germaine Cheng, The Straits Times Life!