Modern Dance Reviews

Plataforma 2013, Part 1

Mexican Embassy Berlin, September 2013
Las Cobijadas: Melania Olcina and Lucía Bernardo, concept Antonio Ruz
Juntos pero no revueltos: Yeri Anarika Vargas Sánchez and 15 dancers

The opening piece Las Cobijadas challenged the audience in several ways. Firstly, very few people noticed when the performance began because both performers were hidden in an upper floor of the building, sporadically showing their heads through the windows. They were noticed only by those who accidentally looked up to the ceiling. The bodies and heads of the performers were covered with a heavy black fabric, except for an opening for one eye, according to a concept inspired by old Andalusian tradition. Spanish choreographer Antonio Ruz developed this idea for his choreography "Ojo"; both dancers are members of his company.
After a while, the performers went down to the hall and started walking circles midst the audience, forcing people to free the space as they were moving. The audience followed them to another room, where performers suddenly bared their upper bodies. They relocated to one of the walls and while keeping close physical contact with each other (see photo below), they began gradually transforming emotional expressions from restless and troubled, penitent and self-abusive to confident, relaxed and self-assured. For the audience leaning against the wall next to them, this was an unusually intense confrontation.

Image: Melania Olcina and Lucía Bernardo in performance Las Cobijadas

The finale of the piece was predictable, which by no means diminished its value. The performers moved to the middle of the room and turned toward the majority of the audience. Here they used facial expression to accomplish the last phase of their transformation to free, self-confident beings. Merely the heavy fabrics wrapped around their hips and legs restrained them. All of a sudden, the fabric fell to the ground and both dancers were standing there free and serene, in the middle of anonymous, silent crowd. They earned a vivid and protracted applaus.
This part of Plataforma was intended for invited guests, see the announcement below. For a stage performance this is very unusual. It happened only once to me so far, it was in Dortmund in 2005. The purpose of a performance is to be seen! But eventually everyone was let in, with or without invitation. Unfortunately there was no program booklet, even names of the performers were not revealed. Who wanted to know had to do their own research which was not easy, the web was of a limited help this time.

Image: Plataforma 2013 - performance in the Mexican embassy only for invited guests

Much more has been shown on that evening, I selected just two photos from choreography "Juntos pero no revueltos" created by Yeri Anarika Vargas Sánchez for fifteen dancers originating from Spanish-speaking countries who live in Berlin. The dancer on the photo below is dangling from a wall installed on wheels which the other drove through the room. Notice a hand pushing the wall in the right bottom corner. The whole dancer's body hangs on the distal and intermediate phalanges of her fingers! In spite of this difficulty she managed to generate movements that did not look awkward and tedious, at least not all the time. Mountaineering skills may sometimes be useful for a contemporary dancer, too.

Image: From Juntos pero no revueltos by Yeri Anarika Vargas Sánchez, 2013
Image: From Juntos pero no revueltos by Yeri Anarika Vargas Sánchez, 2013

Building of Mexican embassy in Berlin in which the performance took place:

Image: Katharina Wunderlich und Lina Fai: Pilotinnen, 2013

Photos and text: Petr Karlovsky
Creative Commons License 2.5.