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Corpus' Interpassivities

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I know Corpus is now its own company, but I didn't know where else to post this review and since Interpassivities does employ dancers from the Royal Danish Ballet, I thought the subject was well-suited enough to go here. If this is wrong, please feel free to move or delete it!


That said, I witnessed something akin to a miraculous event, when I attended the combined efforts of Jesper Just and Corpus, the performance “Interpassivities” in A-salen yesterday. Within the white/black/grey color scheme of the room, six dancers (Susanne Grinder, Ulrik Birkkjær, Alexander Stæger, Jon Axel Fransson, Emma Håkansson and Camilla Ruelykke) and a handful of Polish stage hands transformed the open space into a broken landscape of pallet mounts and black holes into the floor on and in which the dancers moved about, in between the audience members who had to sometimes step aside and move away, to carefully adjust to the patterns that the dancers were dancing within.


Already from the beginning, the audience were made “interpassive” as the dancers infiltrated our ranks as we all took the large lift up to A-salen. Some noticed their presence, others were unaware and quietly the dancers made ready for the performance right there among us.


Once we’d been guided into the room itself, there was no going back. The dancers began warming up, sometimes leaning on a nearby bystander while doing so - I myself had the pleasure of supporting Stæger while he stretched and although it was intimate in its very nearness, it was never intrusive and I never got the feeling that the audience felt their personal sphere violated, only gently tapped as a reminder of the fourth wall and how thin it can really be. At least, that was my own experience, my nerves in regards to this new world order aside.


The dancing was repetitive in quality, though not in any negative way, it was simply that the dancers repeated patterns throughout the performance and as we in the audience watched and learned, we became familiar with each dancer’s specific moving patterns. Especially those staying closest to us or those that we stayed closest to. I myself walked around within the vicinity of Grinder and Birkkjær especially, while also having Stæger and Håkansson within viewing distance at most times. I didn’t walk around as much as some, but stayed rather put throughout most of the performance, thus not getting as acquainted with Fransson’s and  Ruelykke’s patterns as I might have liked, although I did see Fransson dance a PDD with either Ruelykke or Håkansson at one point that was very striking, as well as another one near the end with Grinder that involved climbing a mount of pallets with her draped across his shoulders, both beautiful and a little nerve-wracking to watch as he ascended the construction.


What seemed to be a focal point for all the dancers was a slowness, almost slow-motion quality to their dancing as well as the repetitive movements, their specific patterns. They danced solo often, but also paired up in little duets and choreography between three and four people, sometimes women with women, men with men and at other times men with women. Lifts were grand and architectural in their execution, there was a lot of support carried out and then there was the sprawling… At some point near the middle of the performance, all the dancers sprawled out on the pallets and began sliding around over the wooden constructions on their backs, on their stomachs, crawling over the floor in the slowest of motion. There was a serenity and yet an unsettling vibe to this portion of the performance where they all looked like limb dolls that someone had dropped, but now had come to life.


At some point the white room was cast in darkness and the video montages began, showing ballet dancers entwined in lights, I think it was. Closeup shots of their costumes and their bodies were displayed on three walls and at this point, the audience experienced a sort of night in the viewing process - they went from being pseudo-active performers in the "daylight" to just looking on again while everything went dark around them. The dancers only moved slowly across the floor.


Finally the pallets were gradually returned to their rightful positions by the Polish workers and the performance ended with a row of powerful, strong pas de deux choreographies that I have already mentioned, one of them between Fransson and Grinder and another, the final one between Birkkjær and Grinder which was a very aggressive, desperate choreography full of conflict and intensity. Once that one had come to an end, the dancers simply left the room, leaving the audience behind with another video installation of someone in a tutu skirt following the border between Mexico and the US. A bell-like, heartbeat-reminiscent sound echoed between the walls as if to lull us into tranquility again and we applauded a white room and maybe we also applauded ourselves for surviving in this world that Just had created where we were all so focused on the small details, maybe symbolising the problems of everyday life, that the large whole remained nothing but film on the walls around us.


The red thread in Interpassivities was definitely movement. Everything moved, the dancers, the pallets, the audience - life, the world and us living in it. Maybe the use of Polish stage hands and the video montage of the border were intended as a comment on the ability to move freely across borders, I can’t say, but I myself was more engaged in the thought of it all being an image of ourselves within a constantly changing world, the dancers showing us the repetition and the motion we undergo to navigate it. 


All in all, it was a very intense experience and one I won’t soon forget.

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Interpassivities just received 6 stars from POV International. There was also a great article in Borsen the other day about the performance and the reviews and audience reactions I've found so far are predominantly positive. Personally, I think it's so well-deserved; the experience was one of the most powerful ones I've had as an audience member. Well-done, Corpus! 



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