Jose Vidal Company
Friday 11 June 2010
The floor is a white square, about 6 x 6 metres, surrounded in black tarket which, in turn, is enclosed by the audience on all four sides (not unlike a boxing ring). This is Chilean born Jose Vidal’s Loop, a work he describes as a “live performance and art installation”, and that is part of The Place’s Square Dances series. There are eight performers — dressed thickly in winter coats, jackets, scarves and trousers — and a small stuffed monkey. Together, the dancers lurch and morph from one loaded stillness to another (passing the monkey). The shifts from kinetic to potential energy (and back again) are exquisitely honed as the dancers brace, turn, duck, and then swarm into what become increasingly known formations — ‘known’ in the sense that the loop in the work’s title is as descriptive a title as one could imagine. We see multiple performances of the same (perhaps 2 minute) set of actions, but with each iteration rotating around the performance square to ensure we are witness to all the edges, curves and angles of the loop. In this sense, Loop is frighteningly formal (mirrored by the stark smokey lines of Gareth Green’s lighting design), almost a conceptual game, and just as the repetition starts to tire me, the loop begins to stretch, vibrate, thrust and puncture, all whilst maintaining the structures and rhythms that my experience of the work begin to depend on. The baseline loop becomes my lens, the thing I rely on in order to start to notice the differences. And these differences are in turn spectacular (breath pouring out of the dancers towards the stillnesses), silly (the slightest of pelvic thrusts), and bizarre (matador and bull). In the meantime, the monkey’s trip throughout the work is a delightful divertissement and he (she?) even seems to smile a little when the party version of the loop gets going. The dancers, working hard, but clearly enjoying the ride, are sweating, and becoming increasingly fleshed as they find ways to strip others of clothing, or cajole their own limbs out of their own trousers, skirts, and shirts. I feel filled with a remarkable experience, in which the slightest (for example) tonal change fills the same basic pattern with an enormous alteration in ‘content’. Loop is deftly handled, brilliantly executed, and immensely pleasurable.
Choreography: Jose Vidal & company
Performers: Cristobal Muhr, Giuliana Majo, Kirsty Arnold, Jack Webb, Juan Leiba, Robert Mennear, Lea Tirabasso & Pepa Ubera
Lighting Design and Technical Manager: Gareth Green
Sound Design: Alex Anwandter
Company Manager: Montse Ventura