‘Jump Or Fall’, by Juliana Neves/Are You In Town?

Humorologie: Festival of Emotions, Belgium,  29th June 2013

jorfAs the sky slowly lightens behind the projected roofs that adorn the panelled structure dominating the stage, to a soundtrack of sinister piano and falling rain, a girl dressed incongruously in a blue silk jumpsuit tumbles from the ceiling wrapped in her matching blue aerial silks.

Deliberately mumbled text as the show opens, and the lack of a cohesive aesthetic to the onstage world remind me of so many self-conscious contemporary theatre pieces, and I think I’m going to hate Jump Or Fall. Very quickly, however, as the projection fades and the panels shift to reveal the other inhabitants of this place, I become absorbed by the familiar human sensations transmitted through the performers’  physical movement.

All three are from Belgian circus company BabaFish, and each brings their own unique approach to this collaboration with director Juliana Neves. Michela Henle’s physical control and manipulation of her shape impress in both her solo movement and inverted contact work with Anna Nilsson, who performs on the aerial silks. A.Bucher joins Nilsson in some narrative imagery on the silks, as well as choreographed exploration of balance in and around the scaffold structure of apartment rooms that forms the centre of the stage. All three exhibit remarkable mobility and strength, and an ability to communicate universal feelings through their physicality.

This is a world characterised by a cinematic distortion; space, time and human bodies don’t always behave the way we would expect them to. There is a constant sense of reaching, both out to others in the battle against loneliness, and for the unobtainable or that which belongs to others.

There is something that feels unhealthy in these intersecting lives, dancing alone and around each other, that is disturbingly familiar – and fascinating to watch. The urban soundscape that plays throughout, under the strands of Beethoven and Battles, takes us though the course of a day which could be any or every day, in a city which is any and every city.

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Inspired by a painting by British artist Garry HobbsJump Or Fall’s conception came from the ways we make choices in our lives, fighting for something new, or submitting to familiar routine (and finding ourselves somewhere new regardless).  Produced by Are You In Town?, the show is a dance driven snapshot of inter-relating bodies, indicative of a modern 30-something lifestyle.  The techniques borrowed from the classical circus repertoire are used as expressive tools, (although there is room for trimming and tightening) and, with a little more integration of the performance staging and scenographic elements, this could be a powerful piece of work.

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