18/03/2013 - 21/03/2013
Spanish dance company EA&AE present three contemporary urban dance works. This exclusive performance to the 2013 Dunedin Fringe Festival is a rare opportunity to see a multi-award winning dance company from Europe. The three works – Entomo, Antipodas & Longfade – present a unique perspective by two exciting dancers.
This event is a collaboration between EA&AE, the Dunedin Fringe Festival, the Spanish Embassy in New Zealand and Spanish Cultural Action (AC/E) who work to promote Spanish culture internationally.
DANCE WORK #1 ANTIPODAS (world premiere)
A man who develops his life with his back to the world. A man who is defending other people’s speeches, trying to find his own. He defines himself through other voices, without realizing that he is missing his own. Life passes and he doesn’t occupy any space, entertained by random speeches that don’t lead him anywhere.
Choreographer / dancer: Álvaro Esteban
DANCE WORK #2: LONGFADE
This piece reflects, in terms of Dutch philosopher Spinoza, a body that suffers an internal conflict – poisoning . This situation is prolonged time enough to modify the body in its essence. It will never leave the poisoning process, however it will get stronger during the process. The act of leaving that state will only happen to die. Finally departs consciously. This piece has won The Best Coreographic material prize at UNIDANZA Contest 2012 Madrid.
Creation and interpretation: Elías Aguirre
Duration: 10 minutes
Film of Longfade: http://vimeo.com/34312665
DANCE WORK #3: ENTOMO
An urban dance that analyses the insect world. Through a magnifying glass we observe two small creatures and the microcosm that surrounds them. They may be humans, they may be insects. Performed more than 75 times in 12 countries, this show has received multiple awards and accolades, including:
– First Prize at Certamen Internacional Burgos-New York 2010
– First Prize at the VII Certamen Iberoamericano de Coreografía Alicia Alonso 2010
– Audience prize at the Certamen Coreográfico de Madrid 2009
– Royal Conservatory of Professional Dance Prize
Duet performance by: Elías Aguirre & Álvaro Esteban
Duration: 10 minutes
Fantastic elements still developing
Review by Jonathan W. Marshall 19th Mar 2013
EA&AE is a Madrid based pair consisting of Elías Aguirre and Álvaro Esteban. For the past four years or so they have been plying international festivals presenting what is still a fairly early duet for them, namely Entomo. Inspired by things entomological (insects) it is an impressive exploration of non-human, or at least non-normatively human, movement.
The couple have already offered the work in a variety of settings, including outdoor locations. Although Dunedin received a studio presentation complete with music and sensitive coloured lighting, the focus is resolutely on the movement.
In what sadly seems to have become a standard feature of the Dunedin Fringe, no program for this piece was provided. Although the artists mentioned a composer during post-show discussion, and acknowledged that at least some of their sampled scores draw upon complete songs made by other artists (I thought I recognised the wonderful music made with skipping CDs by the internationally renowned Oval, or possibly his quasi-successor Fennez), none of these artists are credited here or in the media releases. If you are a musician or composer, it seems you must lobby for your rights and representation far more than dancers and actors, which is frankly a bit shocking.
Such complaints aside, the relatively slight emphasis placed upon the supporting design and sound is more broadly indicative of the nature of the performance, which is a short, largely unadorned collection of three pieces: one solo work from each dancer, and a well-travelled duet. Whilst the pieces traverse a fair degree of diversity (especially the sonic accompaniment, which sketches three sections to Entomo itself, moving from sampled night-time field sounds to strings and some electronica), strictly speaking what one is presented with is an early physical sketch, and two works which add to the physical repertoire so developed.
Aguirre and Esteban are two extremely accomplished emerging artists. Aguirre is especially adept at popping, or the hip-hop art of stochastically breaking down body parts and their movement into abruptly isolated, robotic shifts, which seem to click into each new pose. Esteban, by contrast, has a rich plasticity of muscular movement, almost sculpting his body into asymmetric curves which still possess a certain lyricism and softness at times.
Whilst Aguirre seems alternately amused or running on automatic, Aguirre’s eyes have a tendency to roll into his head, as eyelids flutter, his performance approaching an act of possession.
Both dancers draw on hip-hop and contact improvisation in their repertoire, and neither really adopt the fully possessed motifs of butoh or Body Weather. There is however much in common with EA&AE’s approach and these techniques, especially with Esteban.
Perhaps more than any other dance form, butoh has often focussed on producing sub- or non- human movement out of the human body. The dancers here retain a stronger sense of control than butoh dancers, of bodies contained by muscular focus and internal architecture, than the fluid chaos of butoh and Body Weather, but the performance does approach such a modality.
The two solos which preceding Entomo take this modelling of a non-human body via the human structure into other directions. Aguirre seems to offer a more playful study. Although there is much groundwork, he repeatedly returns to a standing or walking position, and in this sense remains resolutely post-ape-like. There is however a beautiful section where he worms across the floor, his arms dragging, as his neck and feet propel him.
Esteban’s solo is more striking and better suited to the close, aestheticized focus which indoor performance offers. He begins with a protracted period where one can only see the surface of his back, hunched over and facing away from us. Muscle and bone is clearly visible through the skin, and each arch of the back recalls the breathing and birth of some pre-placental creature. The complexity of the poses which Esteban constructs is amazing. At times he rests inverted and apparently headless, his entire weight taken through the upper part of the neck and into the ground via a curled spine. At other times his upright, u-shaped form is delicately held aloft on his pelvis, his legs zigzagging spasmodically on either side of his still crushed in torso.
Esteban’s solo in particular gives a striking rendition of how one can make the body do things it is not ‘designed’ to do (arms and wrists bent the wrong way, the use of almost any body part as a foot, etc).
Overall, the show constitutes a relatively light studio presentation. All of the pieces are strong as physical studies, but they do not really go beyond such initial formal explorations. Indeed, this is part of the strength of the work. Video footage on their website and elsewhere shows how effective Entomo is as an outdoor show for a general audience, some of which includes casual bystanders, some of which includes dedicated and focussed spectators.
I am however not convinced myself that the works in their current form entirely sustains the closer degree of attention, and the wider dramaturgical framing, required of a protracted indoor performance for a dedicated audience.
Elements of all three pieces are fantastic, but there does not really seem to be any single model which has really been fully developed and focussed upon here in any single piece. Even in Entomo, insectoid movement is not consistently explored. Whilst the asymmetric climbs and lifts are spectacular, the vocabulary of contact improvisation does not entirely mesh with the fragmentary, quasi-robotic movement elsewhere deployed. The radical indeterminacy of the best of butoh is not attained, and whilst the example of Momix, renowned for their animal and insect choreography, is not exactly the most radical of groups, director Moses Pendleton is much better at unswervingly devoting a whole work and all of its choreographic and scenographic elements to a single theme, such as the insect or the beast. Some Melbournians may also recall Desoxy dance theatre company’s work of the 1990s, which reflected a similar level of intensity and rigour in exploring such themes (see http://desoxy.customer.netspace.net.au/index.html).
In short, EA&AE offer a wonderful performance —- something of a must see in the Fringe for those interested in dance. But the work also still needs further development to reach its full potential. EA&AE’s ongoing international tours should help develop that.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Jonathan W. Marshall March 19th, 2013
Since writing the review above, Aguirre and Esteban have kindly informed me that Samuel Aguilar composed the music for Entomo and the company's work Antipodas. He is also working on music for another EA&AE show entitled Longfade.