Dance Review








Sebastian Rex Dance Group


I Wonder…


Blue Elephant Theatre


6 – 9 May 2009



1ary Couzens

A review by Alice MacKenzie for EXTRA! EXTRA!


I Wonder…. presents an often surreal evening of dance that pivots around touch, repression and liberation. The company is made up of a mixture of actors and dancers who part dance, part mime their way through a series of semi-narrative scenes from three separate works.

The first is The Divine Comedy, inspired by Dante’s medieval epic in which a bemused Filip Krenus is led through Hell, Purgatory and finally to Paradise where he joins a group of joyfully mad souls as they rave and frolic in white.

This is followed by Just Don’t: a demonstration of couples living with not being able to touch each other, be it as a result of illness, religious belief or duty. Many of the scenes moved away from the surreal atmosphere of The Divine Comedy in favor of a very literal presentation of each couple’s problems. The result was a kind of mimed demonstration of illness or piety that lacked subtlety. Very little tension or affection was encouraged to build up between the performers, making it hard to believe that they would wish to touch each other even if they could. Perhaps if the performers had developed more of a sense of the power of touch itself the audience may have felt the absence of it. There were flashes of exception to this. Helen Brushett and Anne-Maarit Kinnernen’ s duet was the most abstract of the four and their freer movement was peppered with some intense but playful eye contact.

The final work of the evening offers a contrast to Just Don’t’s themes of physical repression. Polyamour Me is Sebastian Rex’s most recent work, and was made in residence in Berlin. In this city he found an open sexuality and energy that inspired him. The dancers leap and kick, and place their hands on each others bodies, building to a climactic abandon at the end of the piece. However, the movement often relied on a codified dance language that did not always support Polyamour Me’semphasis on freedom and liberation. The effect was more of a mime of abandon rather than a feeling; a ‘telling’ rather than a ‘showing’.

Throughout the evening’s works, the music builds crashes and moves through a variety of well-known, evocative tracks. It was interesting to see the different moods and images that these famous pieces of music brought with them, and the way in which these images worked with or against the choreographic intention. At times the score could have benefitted from some smoother transitions.

I Wonder… presents some potentially interesting ideas but deals with them with a lack of subtlety. Much of the choreography relies heavily on mime or established dance vocabulary. The performers show us positions: they do the splits, they arabesque or form frames with their arms and legs. But these somehow feel divorced from the ideas and the dancers appeared uncomfortable and unsteady in their execution of the steps. The work was at its most watchable when it hit notes of high surrealism such as in the Heavenly scenes of The Divine Comedy. The dance vocabulary broke down into something freer feeling, and the performers appeared to be genuinely enjoying the mad frolics.



Box office: 020 7701 0100

Tickets: £9, £6.50 Concessions, £4.50 Southwark residents

Theatre: Blue Elephant Theatre, 59a Bethwin Rd, Camberwell, London, SE5 0XT










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