When Kat Válastur made her Dutch debut with the intricate, minimalist duet Lang during the 2012 Spring festival, she immediately caught the interest and admiration of both press and audiences. Moreover, she received an invitation from the Dutch-Hungarian choreographer Krisztina de Châtel, who gained fame in the eighties with austere, repetitive works and recognised Válastur as a kindred spirit. Since then, several of Válastur’s works have been shown in The Netherlands, especially during festivals. This year Julidans has booked her with the solo performance Rasp Your Soul (2017).
In this work the Greek choreographer, who is regarded as one of the most exciting creators in the Berlin dance scene, delves into a bizarre, mystical and mythical world, where man, animal and machine have been moulded together into a single humanoid figure, the fabulous dancer Enrico Ticconi.
This creature, first seen elegantly lying on the floor in constantly switching lights, comes to life with throbbing sounds and a ‘popping’ torso, slowly getting to his feet and muttering words that only after a while become more articulate: “Beautiful whispers in my sakura.”
It starts to explore the nondescript space, reacting to external impulses like digitally distorted and sampled sounds, sucking them up, reproducing them and spitting them out, just like the sticks of bamboo he chews – as if he were a giant panda.
Válastur plays with this kind of associations and imagery. Ticconi assumes the poses of a Hindu god, of poor old Saint Sebastian (the bamboo sticks are now piercing arrows). His identity is shifting all the time, as it does in today’s digital society. In the end, he peels off his skin, proclaiming his existence: “I am… I am.”
Seen like this, Rasp Your Soul is a coherent piece, based on the idea of our bodies being invested with all kinds of cultural trash from our digital world. But formally it could make one think of a student improv – lying down, getting up, exploring the space, et cetera – although it must be said that Válastur has a firm grip on the movement material. She just goes on far too long. Enrico Ticconi, however, is an intruiging performer, expressive up to the point of irritation, sinuous and elusive.
Seen: July 3, 2019 at Melkweg, Amsterdam.