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  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 5:13am

Neuer Tanz

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 February, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 February, 1999, 12:00am

Neuer Tanz, xyz Choreographer: VA Wolfl APA Drama Theatre February 2-4 There was a moment when the audience thought with outrage: 'No! You cannot do this in a theatre! You cannot crush our perfectly natural expectations of entertainment in this way! Get off that stage!' But that moment happened decades ago, and yet here we still have unrepentantly post-modern dance in a time when that kind of avant-garde meaninglessness has lost its meaning.

There was, needless to say, no narrative in this set piece choreographed by VA Wolfl.

There was also a set of programme notes claiming Wolfl 'takes a very original and uncompromising road, one that sometimes proves challenging for the audience', with the subtext that if you don't like it, then you just haven't got it.

The beginning was beautiful with torchlights held at different angles like a grid matrix of moving light.

A black metal frame almost as big as the stage was shifted around creating and defining new spaces throughout the performance. Its first move caused dozens more torches to fall like dominos and light up spontaneously.

Forever after the torches caused difficulty to the dancers who were forced to walk over them, scuffling, tripping, as they carried out an otherwise formal choreography. That obstruction was exquisite.

The performers - most of whose 'dancing' involved mutant marching, back and forwards, up and down - did not emerge from the shadows until half way through.

Before that they were vague figures, in checkered suits warming up for a comedy routine we would never see. Or exercising in the semi-floodlit gloom of a night time soccer pitch. Or strumming a bass guitar so loudly that our ears hurt.

There was something grimly academic about this piece. It claimed to explore space, time and other interesting concepts like potency and sensuality. But xyz was designed to engage the brain rather than the heart, and my brain lost interest well before the end.

Hong Kong has been fortunate in the past few years to have seen a range of modern German dance.

Pina Bausch brought us her shifting mountain of red flowers, Sasha Waltz brought a tender solo with a vacuum cleaner and slapstick sofabound urban violence.

And VA Wolfl brought his crunching, scattered torches, and his formalised thigh slapping.



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