Shechter and Duato: a double bill evening at the Komische Oper Berlin
"The Art of Not Looking Back" created by Hofesh Shechter, an Israeli choreographer based in London, can be considered as a deep and thorough psychological research of human’s capacity to forget and forgive expressed in the language of contemporary dance.
From the very beginning of the performance since we hear Shechter’s smarmy "My mother left me when I was two", we get to know what lies behind these "ragged" movements, unpredictable shouts of despair and spine-chilling noises getting on our nerves – a lonely child’s unbearable reality. Though the performance does seem irritating and disturbing due to the overwhelming contrast of Bach’s melodic pieces and John Zorn’s heart-stopping ambulance and avant-garde extracts from "Six Litanies for Heliogabalus" accompanied by vomit sounds effects, the "ugliness" of musical "framing" perfectly contributes to the choreographer’s inner voice. "She wants to be everything to me because she is nothing to me".
It must be pointed out the idea of "true and false" femininity is also revealed in the ballet as this time Shechter works with women and for women in an attempt to re-establish his attitude to that very one of them the whole ballet is dedicated to. Controversial sides of female aesthetics can be traced here: sexuality, cruelty, ethereal beauty, grace and their desire to be independent and sovereign, notwithstanding the fact they are likely to hurt their close ones' feelings.
"I don’t forgive you" is heard, and we are left with a distant figure of a woman seen in the dark. She is vague and ghostly, but she is still present. Are you sure you have really learnt the art of not looking back?
In "Erde", a frightening journey into the nearest future of our planet, Nacho Duato is obsessed with environmental issues. As we know, Greenpeace came out as one of the assistant partners for this piece, and it must have been quite a tangible reward for the choreographer willing to pay our attention to burning problems we are facing.
But you should not get it wrong. This ballet has nothing to do with tedious lectures on deforestation, loss of biodiversity, resource depletion and other things like that. The dancers move on stage in an agony of depression, dying out, unable to breathe freely. Their dance is highly expressive and dynamic, but still flowing. Duato immerses the audience in the surrealistic realm of plastic and cellophane covers that afflict us, empty patches of degraded land prevailing, ubiquitous smog and a few species of "creatures" suffering from losing their natural habitat.
Both pieces, being rather personal and emotional, have a huge impact on the audience and surely are not supposed to entertain, however, they are definitely worth seeing.
Photos by © Fernando Marcos