I remember this time when I was at an outdoor poetry reading event a few years ago. I sat with the audience under a very old willow tree listening to this one poet I would never forget. Her poetry was so beautifully written, rich of imagery, rhythm, and immersive, cohesive sounds that it lifted me up to some kind of divine trans: I could see what she was telling, I could feel it, breathe it, and touch it. I thought an experience of a sort would never happen again until I watched Exhausting Space by Iván Pérez. First produced by Korzo theater in Den Haag, It was during the Nederlandse Dansdagen in Maastricht ( the 3rd of october, Bordenhal 17.00 – 18.00) that I discovered this wonderful piece of dance.
Exhausting Space is a piece danced by a trio (Nina Botkay, Christopher Tandy, and Pérez himself). It started with Dancer Botkay going through a minefield of painted black eggs, carefully paving her way across the deadly field that might at every moment be the end of her existence. The solo ended when dancer Tandy and Pérez entered the scene and removed the eggs to reorder them in a frame (very rigid, yet so fragile) around the dance floor inside which the rest of the piece took place. However, one egg remained with Tandy, and he juggled with it for a while until he dropped it on the floor, broke it, then got a mob to clean it. I liked to entertain the idea that the eggs represented not only an edge to the stage but also a frame to a person’s life: its individuality and its sociability.
The evolution of the second part of the piece was deductive and gradual with a few elements of surprise. Much like the intense connection the dancers had through vision, their bodies were also craving for a bond, and thus gradually moved from a relatively individualistic dance to contact. However, the first contact they had turned out to be very brutal and sadistic. First Perez and Tandy picked on defenseless Botkay until she got out of the frame of life in despair. Soon after, Tandy followed leaving Pérez alone, performing a mournful yet strong, very fluid, hypnotic and beautifully constructed solo which ends with him lying motionless on the floor. Following the tragic event, Tandy and Botkay went in again, and outlined the body with the eggs, similarly to the chalk used in crime scenes. After all this violence, the piece closes on a string of hope: the purification of three individuals finally finding harmony in themselves and each other.
I am very impressed by this simplistic and yet very rich-in-meaning approach to choreography and dance. With the electronic music of Rutger Zuydervelt, the three amazing dancers dive in very particular movement qualities, only to perfect them: the fluid, organic, both soft and brutal, impressively precise, very technical, but also quite foreign movements make this piece a perfect poem under a willow tree.