Eva LAKEMAN reports
CaDance is back. From 18th to 29th May venues across The Hague will host this biennale festival consisting of artistic works that transcend boundaries in showcase performances that will have you stopping in your tepid tracks. This year’s theme is Where Worlds Collide and Connect and dance shows have been composed explicitly with this message in mind.
ARISE 20th May 2023
Resident choreographer at the Korzo Theatre, Astrid Boons is highly acclaimed for creations in which she explores the body as a vessel capable of transcending its physical borders to enter new spaces and embrace self-discovery off the beaten track.
Boons creates from a distinctly female angle and last night, the Korzo offered its platform to Arise, a production both unsettling and uplifting.
The impact of Boons’ short composition is immediate. For thirty minutes the audience is asked to confront the female condition and its attendant challenges. Boons’ work is brutal in its honesty and unflinching in its determination. At no point is the audience offered an opportunity to look the other way and at no point were we inclined to avert our attention.
The lead actors are three female dancers clad in tight fitting clothing showcasing the sheer beauty of the female body. But these beautiful women are in distress. Their bodies contort, convulse and misshape and spasms compromise their delicate physiques. Their facial expressions reveal disquiet and convey pain and unhappiness. But at the same, there is a strong sense of intuition, communication, interdependence and determination born of vulnerability – those female qualities attributed to intangible inner strength. Boons’ skillful choreography is a refreshing reaction to the semblance of normalcy in the contemporary female experience. The dancers in Arise’s are confined, their fierce and robust movements challenge the social and societal expectations and restrictions placed on women as though they are physically attempting to loosen themselves from their historically embedded shackles. They channel both their physical and emotional strength with urgency to resist and transcend.
Arise is a magnificent, mesmerising experience that keeps you gripping your seat. Boons’ collaboration with Chilean Dutch composer and sound designer Miguelángel Clerc Parada introduce an even deeper and eerily familiar element to the stormy setting. Clerc’s skills in experimental music composition bring an unconventional range of tortuous thumping throughout Arise to reflect the plight of so many women who must engage over and again with the repetitive conventional norms bestowed upon them.
Above the dancers, glaring fluorescent lights dangle from paper-thin wires hanging from the ceiling, a highly-effective production design that brings a stark clinical feel to the production, shines a spotlight on the female condition and conveys the unequivocal nature of Boons’ message.
SAPIENS: BRIDGING EARTH TO SKY 19th May
The second day of the week-long CaDance festival hosted by Korzo Theatre took me on a journey to Zuiderstrand in Scheveningen. As the light faded and the sunset performed as a bridge between earth and sky on a peaceful early summer evening, we were thrilled by a remarkable outdoor dance presentation delivered with the compelling rhythm and movement of the indigenous Chilean culture.
SapienS: Bridging Earth to Sky is a composition by the gifted and dedicated Amsterdam-based artist Sarada Sarita. She was born into a family of dancers of Chilean and Dutch descent who were some of the first to bring the worlds and rituals of street and club dance to the Netherlands.
An award-winning performer and choreographer, Sarita brings together an all-female cast in SapienS in recognition of her passion for equality and empowerment. Nature and, more specifically, water are often used as a metaphor for the feminine principle, characterised by depth, intuition and subconscious strength, a central theme for Sarita’s oeuvres.
The four dancers embodied female warriors in their traditional indigenous red robe and red facial paint, a striking presence against the beach backdrop. The feminine spirit made waves along the shoreline and within the souls of the people gathered at the beach. Nearby, Sarita sat cross-legged in support of her dancers as each one brought a unique style of body language and personality to the presentation. The parts of the whole were united by their strong affinity with femininity and nature.
SapienS reflects Sarita’s passion for and specialisation in the three similar and highly stylised dance forms known as waacking, voguing and locking. Her incorporation of these styles into the piece engenders a safe space for self-expression – a space in which the audience can leave at the gate their servitude to everyday life and transform into whoever they want to be – just for an evening.
SapienS is an overt celebration of femininity and life itself. The indigenous music tugged at the emotions of the audience as we were drawn into a ritualistic world of hypnotic chanting and drumming. With this composition, Sarita reminds us of the fluidity and intersectionality of all living breathing subjects in aspects such as identity, race, gender, sexuality and our inextricable link with Mother Nature. SapienS comes at an especially urgent time as the world battles the throes of Climate Change which at its very core level is the result of a human disconnect with nature.
SONGS AND SILENCES 18th May
Last night, I was lucky enough to be at the festival’s opening at the Korzo Theatre where we were treated to the premier of Songs and Silences, a performance originating from the creative genius of the critically acclaimed Israeli choreographer, musician and artistic director Amos Ben-Tal.
The performance is a spellbinding concept by OFFprojects, a collective founded by Amos consisting of former dancers from the NDT and Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company who construct interdisciplinary performances with an aim to inspire artistry across the world. The viewer is invited to become absorbed in a human experience not on their own, but of their own.
To set the scene. In a dimly lit studio, a series of strangers must sit on identical black stools in preparation for a three-hour-long rendezvous through mind and matter, time and space. Every 15 minutes, the performance halts to allow viewers to either stay, leave or switch their position to another dreary, dull chair. The simplicity of the scene authorises the viewer to enter an ulterior world outside of themselves with no distractions bar intermittent Songs and Silences. However long or short you wish to stay is solely up to you.
Amos combines three primary forms of expression in Songs and Silences, namely; dance, music and text. The performance is not the usual evening-long dance show you might expect. Instead, it’s a series of short burst intervals executed by eight eloquently refined dancers as well as Amos himself, whose guitar skills perfectly tie together the performance. You will be mesmerised by the rigid movements of each dancer, the passion behind their eyes and Amos’ delicate plucking. He tugs on your heartstrings as he invites you to step into another soul’s tumultuous world. A selfless act in an attempt to better understand the peculiar ‘other.’
Despite the human condition existing as a universal claim, Jacques Derrida’s notion of différance is exposed in Songs and Silences in the way each person resonates with Amos’ performance through their own lone life experience, no matter how similar or different it may be. Songs and Silences is an immersive experience which induces a fit of inhalation through the Silences and exhalation through the Songs.
If you have a moment or two to spare before or after an event at the Korzo you can pop in to see a small installation called Pieces of a Mind by Korzo maker Michael Zandl.
Mr. Zandl was the creator of the brilliant Sawdust Symphony which we reviewed eighteen months ago and his installation echoes this obsession with wood. It consists of two pieces, both logs. One of which, at the end of a grassy passage, has a nail in it and the punter is invited to hit the nail with the provided hammer. I won’t spoil it by saying what happens but it put me in mind of that old favourite, Whack a Mole.
CaDance continues until 29th May. Click here for more info and programme