Last Resistance, Cold Hawaii

A double bill by Annemijn Rijk and Sigrid Stigsdatter Mathiassen was on the menu on 28 April during Moving Futures, the festival for talented young dance makers organized by ICK Artist Space (formerly Dansmakers Amsterdam), Dansateliers, DansBrabant, Random Collision, and Generale Oost, and presented online via Studio X, the platform hosted by Korzo Theater.

The evening starts with Last Resistance, a work by Annemijn Rijk performed by Blazej Jasinski. A male figure stands in the middle of the space, the (limited) audience is seated around him, on the stage floor. A square of light seems to constrict him as he tries to move with small and contained, yet powerful, movements. The dancer is shirtless, wearing cargo pants and what seems to be gymnastics leggings, with cut-outs for the feet, underneath. He looks strong and somewhat in distress. The soundtrack throughout the piece is a female voice (Tessa Stephenson), narrating reflections about self-improvement and living with trauma.

The movements image the words, or respond to them. The voice seems at times to guide the dancer or enter into a dialogue with him, making it simultaneously a bodiless actor as well as another form of the performer present onstage. Notably, when the narration speaks about self-worth, Jansinski yells repeatedly that he likes himself, showing the voice that he is indeed trying to heal himself. But a redundant image like this results in a linear composition without much room for interpretation. And aside from the theatrical aspect of the piece, the movement language does not seem to evolve anywhere. The dancer is strong and shows good skill in floor work, but his deftness doesn’t add much to the work.

It is not easy to transmit grave topics through dance. Unfortunately, this effort falls into clichés. The dramaturgical choices lack subtlety both in their choreographic composition and performative execution. Desperation, rage, uncertainty. It is a solo that reiterates life’s tragedy without much sophistication.

Next up is a solo choreographed and performed by Sigrid Stigsdatter Mathiassen: Cold Hawaii. In a white space, she walks assertively and then drops to the floor. Softly, she starts to emit vocal sounds, like the wind sighing. She inhabits the empty stage and the silence as if they were her home. Stigsdatter Mathiassen navigates the space with ease, moving swiftly and murmuring words that sometimes form sentences. She observes her surroundings, without any pressure to fill the space or mind the time.

Despite this work being streamed, I felt transported into her space. Not to the white cube she was performing in, but in her fantasy world, or rather my own fantasy world that I was able to experience through the environment she conjured up. It was refreshing to see movement treated as a true vessel from which a narrative could emerge freely, rather than for decorative purposes or for the pressure of showing conventional physical dexterity.

The tasteful work ends the evening like a thoughtful summer breeze, leaving me to contemplate my own thoughts.

Moving Futures

Featured photo: Anna van Kooij