Friday, 22 December 2017

CACTI by Alexander Edman - Filippo Buonamassa DM1

Thursday, November 30th 2017
Stadstheater Arnhem

When the humor becomes the expression of a deep provocation, there is no more need to find other elements to create a new piece on.

 That was the idea that, in 2010, Alexander Ekman, known for his witty humor and clever transitions, followed to create an ingenious and hilarious piece, which is able to discover and go through some critical aspects of the reality. 

In this work, the maker explores the uneasy relationship between the creator’s will, the performer’s execution and the spectator’s gaze. Everything revolves around three elements:

  •  contemporary dance
  •  contemporary dancers 
  •  "contemporary” audience.

 The final result?
Cacti of different sizes all over the stage as a joyful parody of the art form’s excess.

 From the outside, the first image to admire was a fascinating picture with series of “ivory statues” shaped in artful poses draped on and around oversized blocks. 

You should wait few minutes to get where the most entertaining part of the performance starts when all the dancers turn into musical instruments of an orchestra directed by the three musicians on stage. 

Matter of seconds and the live music was crossed over with sounds of hands clapping, feet hitting the floor and voices screaming out loud. Such an impressive moment!

However, “Cacti” is a piece not only about the unity and energy of the group, but about the individual artist expressing Schubert’s score and emphasizing the creativity and fastness within the music. One of its strengths is the complete freedom which let the dancers use their inner madness in this work.

The best part of the performance was the central duet, hilarious and comic but deep and provocative at the same time. A high-pitched voice accompanied all the dancers in their performance, suggesting funny and comic meanings for every single movement they were practising on stage.

That is why everyone, both dancers and public, was continuously bombarded with images and emotion since that voice kept on asking rudely: “What do you see?”.

It is evident how actually,in “Cacti”, Alexander Ekman, running through these different sections, challenged the audience, getting them into a deep reflection about modern dance.

 Even though the performance is really full of hidden meanings and confusing images, what makes it clear and easy to see and understand is the scenography, including the use of the lights and costumes. As well as the movements, the lights also follow the same canon-structure, lighting up different parts of the stage (the use of the space really appreciable). 

Furthermore , the choice of wearing simple costumes without bright colors also gives a clear vision of what is happening on stage.In fact, minimalism about effects and decorations on stage seems to be a usual feature of Ekman’s works: in this regard, “Rondo” (2012) and “Left right left right” (2012), two of his amazing works, could be great examples.  


What is sure is that you will be completely captured by the excitement and the passion which perfectly mix with the dancer’s outstanding physicality. This combination of energy and unison leaves both the dancers and the viewers captivated. It is definitely worth seeing!

Take a look at the "Behind scene" below. I find it really useful to better understand the whole performance.

Choreography, Decoration and Costumes: Alexander Ekman
Lyrics:   Spencer Theberge 
World Premiere:   25 February, 2010 Lucent Danstheater The Hague 
Light : Tom Visser
Live performed by  Tinta Schmidt von Altenstadt (first violin), Arnieke Beilschmidt (second violin), Naomi Peters (alto violin), Artur Trajko (cello)

                          Filippo Buonamassa

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