Monday, October 28, 2019



 Choreographed by Damien Jalet in collaboration with designer Kohei Nawa. Dunstan Playhouse. Adelaide Festival Centre. OzAsia Festival October 26-27 2019.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Extraordinary! There can be no other way to describe Damien Jalet and Kohei Nawa’s  abstract sculptural dance in which bodies and landscape merge in an extraterrestrial, primordial fusion of dance and dream-like imagery of the human form.

The low haunting tone of the wind sounds over an alien landscape. Yukiko Yoshimoto’s lighting creation slowlY illuminates a floating moonscape upon a stage covered with water. Gradually conjoined physical forms are detected around the edge of the large structure in the centre of the stage. The light brightens and Marihiko Haka’s musical composition with the participation of Ryuichi Sakamoto introduces the sound of bubbling water, accompanying amounting percussion. Mystery fills the air and the shapes emerge into the light, stretching and contorting in a slowly writhing symphony of intertwined limbs

From within a sculptured structure of limbs a headless torso and heaving form slides through the water to the edge of the stage. The lighting spots more strange and indefinable shapes as the solid form fragments in a display of limbs and shifting poses. Shoulder stands shape a landscape of denuded vegetation before transforming into extraterrestrial creatures or distant aliens. The seven dancers from Greece, Japan and Australia gyrate, rotate, intertwine, morphing from indefinable living creatures to a chorus line of piano hammers comically  creating their musical composition.

Vessel  is noted as “the background that is subsumed by life and death, and the cycles of earth and life” The imagery of dance in non-human entity, captured by the anonymity of concealed heads and indistinct gender fires the imaginary forces as a concept of evolutionary cycle ferments in the imagination. The human species has evolved from the water, eventually surfacing upon the land and transforming into a new species of human beings. In the process of contortion, writhing, conjoining and fragmenting images transmute into interpretative possibilities. Dark pits in the collarbones appear as sunken eyes on strange creatures. Another form suggests a praying mantis. Another a tree trunk, Another a Venus flytrap or the dilated cervix giving birth to new life. A white liquid, drawn from the landscape emerges, gliding across the back of a dancer. Birth is imminent as the vernix covers the  slowly emerging human, who sinks back into the earth at the completion of life’s cycle
What is so extraordinary about Julet and Nawa’s dance performance is its unique imagining and creative individuality. Concept and dance combine with design and music to conjure a mesmerizing and transformative experience. The physical versatility and synchronization of a closely knitted ensemble provides a fresh insight into the imaginative expression of contemporary dance.

Vessel overflows with the wonderment of imagination and the brilliance of its artists. It lingers in the memory like an eerie, unforgettable dream.