ONE LIMITED SPACE – Min Hee Bervoets at The Korzo Theater, The Hague

The title of the piece refers to the human brain and seeks to demonstrate that it is, in fact, unlimited. We are also invited to explore the difference in cerebral functionality between men and women.

One Limited Space takes place on an empty stage, except for a pile of old suitcases in front of a white screen at the back. There is no music to start with just a female voice describing in some detail the physiology of the brain as the six dancers slowly walk on from behind the screen. Visually, it was impressive and bode well for the evening’s entertainment. The dancers each wore costumes of the same colour and fabric, the girls in simple wrap-round shifts, the men in sarongs.

The performance was broken down into several sequences, each demonstrating the relationship, but mostly the difference, between male and female behaviour – it could almost have been called The Battle of the Sexes or named after John Gray’s seminal book on the subject, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. There seemed to be very little common ground between male and female.

One sequence, and one of the most successful and positive, was a pas de deux danced while a couple (Min Hee and her husband, I imagine) described how they first met and fell in love. Having an eighty minute dance piece with very little music was strange but worked very well and was always absorbing.

The best sequence that did include music again demonstrated the divergence of the sexes as a solo girl dancer tried to tune in an old radio to Carole King’s You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman while being constantly harassed by the three male dancers. It worked very well, as did the final sequence of the piece which again involved a girl struggling to achieve her goal, this time reaching a small tree in a pot in the far corner of the stage while being repeatedly restrained by a man until she finally gives up.

One Limited Space marks the first production from Belgium based Min Hee Bervoets’ new HNDRD company and all aspects of the performance were excellent from the choreography to the visuals, lighting and sound, I really enjoyed it all – with one major reservation.

Towards the end of the performance a lone male dancer came on stage, not dancing, just sauntering on, and proceeded to arrange the upstage battered suitcases in a row along the front of the stage. He then asked for the house-lights to be put up and asked for a volunteer from the audience. A female “volunteer” was forthcoming and a game of charades ensued. They looked in each suitcase and then tried to mime its contents for the audience to guess. I suppose it was designed to demonstrate the problems of communication. This it did, but not, I suspect, in the way that was intended.

If you read the small print in the programme notes it was clear this “volunteer” was someone chosen from an earlier workshop held by the company and placed in the audience. I was sitting there with my mouth open, at a loss to know what was going on. It wasn’t clever, it wasn’t funny and it certainly wasn’t dance and came close to destroying the whole evening. It was almost as if the other five dancers fancied a coffee and a quick cigarette round the back and sent out the one who picked the short straw to entertain the audience for ten minutes. Disaster would be too strong a word, mistake certainly wouldn’t.    Michael Hasted   31st January 2018

error