M1 Open Stage begins with Watcher, by Hung-Chung Lai from Taiwan, three dancers dressed in black costumes display extraordinary dance technique skills on a fast and tight piece of dance. Taking the task of dancing with youthful enthusiasm and athletic bodies they tilt over one grounded leg to reach the floor in perfect unison. This piece of dance feels very fresh and modern, but the musical choice of (Vaka) by Sigur Ros perhaps suggests the research is not over yet.
‘I really wanna have something with you…’ the performer confesses on stage opening the second instalment of the night, choreographed and performed by Anton Safonov – Jamais Vu. This solo piece seems to make use of the accumulation method to introduce text to the audience. Safonov adds one word every time he repeats the same sentence until he finally ends it. From this point onwards the focus is on movement, slightly acrobatic but fluid and grounded he performs the entire piece happily; however, the text and the dance feel intrinsically disconnected.
Nguyen Thanh Chung excites the audience from the outset, replacing his head with a green inflated balloon on the floor moving like a puppy. A trip of… is an exciting proposition for dance using everyday objects and video to create and terminate movements phrases set against a particularly impressive sound score of code spelt out loud. The latter is fascinating, but unfortunately, it takes a central place in the performance leading one away from the stage and into an internalisation of a matrix reality.
The evening unfolds into an unexpected cutting-edge performance, by Choi Young Hyun and Son Yu Joung. From absolute darkness on stage Silentium starts, we can see traces of the neck and collarbone. This effective lighting technique reveals one inch of the body at the time, starting from below the neck, passing the pectorals muscles and prominent abdominals to finish just above the pubic hair line. Occasionally we can see the hands and arms moving with charm and pose as this human body takes the shape of a deep water creature, even an alien. This piece finishes on a climax with the sound of hands clapping against the chest as if the performer is reaching the finishing line with the utmost pleasure through movement.
Body Language is an exquisite duet, danced in perfect unison with a critical sense of humour. Kota Kihara and Yoshika Shinohe dance like athletes while playing as actors, these very well prepared dancers provide magic through the night engaging the audiences on sensorial, visual and thought-provoking levels.
We finish the evening with Corollary choreographed by Germaine Cheng. Starting off with a solo, gradually four new dancers join in the improvisation games – investigating the idea of a Rube Golberg machine through dance and choreography. The idea is clear, but the execution falls short in comparison to all the other performances in the evening. The aesthetics of the work and the dancers reflect less experience of dance; it’s difficult to watch the dancers struggling to land from jumps, to keep themselves still and responsive to the movement and creative tasks.