THE PROTAGONIST as part of CADANCE FESTIVAL 2019 in The Hague

From a dark space a figure tentatively tries to escape – at first only hands probe, retract, feet, a whole body tumbles out only to crawl like a crab under a rock, back into the dark. The only sound is that of deep space. Dunja Jocic has created a piece about the addiction to life on the internet. Her eye for tiny detail illustrates that the panacea we were all promised has turned into an almost inescapable tangle, a web woven by the virtuosos of algorithms, somewhere, out there, but where and why?

Escaping the virtual and confronting reality is a bumpy ride and soon everything turns into a nightmare in which young people are hypnotised by mobile phones, the cravings for ‘likes’ become emotional torture, friends are data and becoming a ‘GIF’ is not an unreasonable ambition. Seduction, grooming, bullying and tribalism all pile in to consume to almost destroy the vulnerable.

Barbara Markovi’s spoken text illuminate the action throughout. In a scene full of humour, the dancers writhing on the floor, declaim the seductive boasts from adverts and millions of manic YouTubers intruding on our lives, asserting their own importance with the most fatuous agendas: ‘I nailed MY Sunday dinner with MY popcorn chicken’ cries one. ‘A little food porn,’ suggests another, or the desperate cry of, ‘Carbs are not my enemy’.

I particularly liked the ensemble work, expressing the tribal aspects of life on the internet with one of the dancers breaking into cries of joy typical of Balkan folk dances.

Karlijn Roest in the central role, Gergo Farkas, Amy Josh and the extraordinary Christiaan de Donder were all excellent, as was their dancing, almost witch-like choreographer Dunja Jocic, who, together with sound man Harry de Wit has almost created a modern-day opera. De Witt’s soundscape escalated from the quiet, all-enveloping drone of outer space to the frenzied cacophony that the internet has become. He was an active member of the cast, using percussion, recorded sound and huge glass bells, all of which he controlled like a long-robed sorcerer. Pala Beranová’s lighting design too was very effective in creating ever changing, dramatic spaces. And I was very pleased to see Slavna Martinovic’s creativity when it came to the beautiful costume designs – no dull, crumpled rehearsal clothing here. Wonderful and highly recommended. Check out their tour.   Astrid Burchardt     2nd February 2019

 

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