Jasmin Vardimon is an Israeli dancer and choreographer who set up her own company in 1997. The company was set up to blend dance with video, with a particularly physical form of dance. Her company's website describes her work as "the tangible theatrical caging of violence, humour, and sexual passion through her acute human observance of physical behaviour and characters' interactions."
That word 'physicality' is just about right: this is one of the most violent manifestations of modern dance that I've seen, at times one isn't quite sure whether to use the language of dance or that of all-in wrestling.
The evening opens with one of the dancers playing what appears to be a dwarf with Tourette's. It's the longest period of speech in the piece, and is the most unsatisfactory part of the whole evening: it seems like an unnecessary prologue to the rest of the performance.
All the action takes place in a hospital, one that appears to have very few patients. Choreographed to an electronic score (and a bonus point for using Mouse on Mars, one of my favourite bands) and using just five performers, this is an exhilarating and passionate work; combining eroticism and violence, sometimes simultaneously. Paradoxically, the most powerful scene in the whole piece eschews the most shockingly violent movements and yet portrays a rape - an episode that is particularly well portrayed.
There's also ingenious use of props: zimmer frames, a pillow and a balloon are all brought into play and there's a humorous scene using a microphone.
The video projections are a bit hit and miss; the use of CCTV camera projected onto a screen provides some entertainment but again, I found them intrusive and detracting from the dance itself.
Perhaps one of the most disappointing part of the whole evening is that piece is described as looking at the body's relationship to illness, but in fact, Vardimon's vision of a hospital seems to be one, familiar to all soap fans, where doctors and nurses seem to be spend most of their time in pursuit of sexual adventures with each other. Although our preoccupation with disease is touched on during the course of the evening, it would have been more interesting to see more exploration of that.
Expertly lit by Chaine Yavroyan, who seems to have captured the ghostly glow of hospitals brilliantly, the piece is superbly danced by Vardimon herself, Leon Baugh, Luke Burroughs, Mafalda Deville and Kath Duggan, all contributing to a thought-provoking and stimulating evening.
- Maxwell Cooter (reviewed at The Place, London)