I think what I enjoyed the most about watching Retina’s ‘Corporalis’ was that I could see the dancers actually dancing. This seems a bit of a redundant statement, naturally when you go and watch a dance piece you see dancers dancing, in fact it kind of goes without saying. However, from my seat at the Riley Theatre I could really observe and analyse the movement. I could see the dancers sweat, hear their strained breath and see with almost untainted clarity where their weight was when they were en releve.
It was brilliant.
It felt like I was actually dancing the piece myself. It felt like I had an unrestricted access pass. I was soaking it up, loving Erin Harty’s crazy improv freak out, because it felt so real. It was gritty, you could tell that the choreography was physical and powerful because you could see it, it was intoxicating to watch. So tangible that it threw whole new dimensions to the choreography.
It seems weird that I’ve never experienced dance like this before. Sure, we want the dancers to be polished, to make things look effortless at times, but I think we fixate on this quality too much. Dance is not easy, by any means, so it is in a sense only natural that we should see behind the curtain of engineered perfection. Where dancers are protected by a thick layer of make-up, an emotive expression and a firm barrier between performer and audience member.
Considering the piece asked how does the ‘physical body respond to its surroundings’ I thought the piece did well to communicate the stimulus. The use of the moving wall, was particularly successful in helping to explore space. Something that is constantly questioned, and evolving within the piece, whether this manifested itself in a solo, duet or a four piece unison. I liked how the constriction or expansion of space as dictated by the wall placement also helped to play with the movement dynamics. Highlighting at times the intense physicality of the movement and yet, serving as a support system for more adventurous lifts that allowed the dancers to scramble, and slide across the walls.
Undoubtedly, Retina excels when it comes to physicality- a quality that translates well in both floor and partner work. ‘Corporalis’ with its exploration of the physical body, and the evolving use of space is heightened by the movement quality, and is therefore, a highly enjoyable and stimulating piece.