Binary pairs two intensely introspective duets to conclude the 8th M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival. The works propose austere theatrical environments, the dancers’ stirring movements drawing us into their inner worlds instead.
“Broken Lines” by Dimo Kirilov begins with the choreographer with his back to us, alone. Carrying a suit jacket and what later is revealed to be a cassette player. Above his head, a loop handle like those in trains. It is a picture of mundane life, and something is not quite right. The dancer struggles with his ability to hold on. His body, languid and beautifully expressive, slips, stretches, explodes and contains itself. What we feel is perhaps a man in existential crisis, fighting to get a grip.
When his partner Tamako Akiyama appears dressed in red, it seems his inner disaster is averted temporarily. Another lonely person reaching and falling, dealing with her own reality. Akiyama is gamine and playful, a breath of fresh air. Her brightness suggests a challenge to his soulful excavation, creating subtle and engaging dramatic interplay. Dancing together they create pure alchemy.
At times the two are humorous, slipping momentarily into flirtatious and posturing modes. Never leaving the thread of shared loneliness, their bodies interweave and share weight to develop momentum. As characters they also develop conflict, struggle, intimacy. A quietly moving experience underscored by broken communication.
The second half of Binary, Humanhood’s duet “Zero” balances image and motion with the visual and aural spectacle available in contemporary theatres. Bodies take on the properties of molecules, particles and waves. The work expands metaphorically from point zero — the something connoting nothingness.
The dancers enter a trance through repetitions and extrapolations. In one section, they remain in the middle and reveal multiple pathways for arms and heads. They shift and spiral in flurries, as if tiny speeders were zipping around them on invisible highways. Sometimes efficient as a Shaolin master, sometimes powerfully quoting West African dance vocabulary, the speeders always pass through the middle of their bodies. What goes left, it seems, must go right. The centre of the body, like the centre of the space, organises the continuous rapid flow of energy and information.
The moments of stillness, where the eye finally gets to rest, are deeply satisfying. Our minds switch to focus on their sound score, also containing global influences.
In the trance created by the dance exists a restlessness and a meditation. Their humanness swims in a sea of abstraction. They only allow two brief moments of direct confrontation with the audience. When they look at us, I am struck by how magical it is that molecules form people.
The works propose a deep engagement with concert dance; their nuanced statements occasionally delve into impenetrable contemplation. Molding energy, space and time to create works which approach story, philosophy, science, the primary result is kinesthetic enjoyment.
Binary at Esplanade Theatre Studio with M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival, 29 & 30 June.
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