Theater Rotterdam presents Alida Dors’ PRIMISI

After exploring the themes of fighting and resilience in her earlier pieces, artistic director, playwright and choreographer Alida Dors is now steering her Dance Chronicles in a new direction – love.

In Primisi (Surinamese for “permission”), Dors has her dancers explore their own female energy. Augmented by a lone male dancer this visually stunning work has a primal, often ritualistic feel to it. The opening sequence is truly spectacular with a lone dancer silhouetted against a single, floor level spotlight engulfed in swirling smoke. As the lamp slowly rises she makes her way to a pile of clothes at the back of the stage.

The clothes, and indeed all the costumes, appear, at first to be a collection of rags, initially giving the impression that the characters are perhaps homeless vagrants. But as more lights come on it is clear that the costumes are in fact beautifully layered pieces of exotic fabrics, textile collages adorning the bodies. But these are not just costumes, they are props which are an integral part of the story, used to demonstrate the many layers of personal relationships.

Alida Dors describes the work as, “a celebratory release in which we release ourselves from our fears and shed our gender roles. We explore the possibilities of feminine energy. For me personally, the meaning of Primisi lies in listening to my ancestors and inner strength, to enter into an authentic relationship with the other through raw, rhythmic movement.”

Well, there is certainly a lot of raw rhythmic, tribal even, movement. With Primisi Dors has created an exotic kaleidoscope of dance forms integrating the likes of Hiphop, Vogue and Krump with contemporary dance – including what amounted to a bit of pole dancing. The hypnotic soundscape is produced live on stage by four musicians who merge in and out of the darkness producing music which enhances and augments the movement.

There is a lot of shedding of clothes, liberating the soul. One of the most powerful sequences is of the male dancer being stripped and ritually cleansed. In fact, Primisi suggests we experience love as a form of ritual washing.

But we also see the darker side of love. There are a couple of occasions which are very dramatic, both involving the dozens of hanging ropes which form the décor. In one, the ropes are woven together to make a cradle in which to support the supine, corpse-like, male dancer. The other instance is almost frightening when one of the girls struggles to release herself from a web of tangled ropes, whimpering while the others look silently on.

This production from Theater Rotterdam confirms that The Netherlands is a rich and fertile pasture which provides an environment in which contemporary dance can thrive and be appreciated.   Michael Hasted    18th November 2022

Photo by Mark Bolk

Alida Dors’ PRIMISI continues on tour until 12th January.