Dance: Stuck in a pointless groove
Monday 31 May 1999
QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL
WIM VANDEKEYBUS and his Flemish group Ultima Vez's work looks as though they created it on their Saturdays off in some garage, improvising with string, torches, or anything else to hand. This either has a homespun charm or brazen artlessness, depending on your point of view, and mine leans towards the second. And where normally I would thrill to the sight of 10 young men displaying their muscularity, here it became a chore, all sexiness banished in a relentless and crude pursuit of human truth.
Male behaviour is one theme of In Spite of Wishing and Wanting, which boasts commissioned music by the rock star David Byrne. Nowhere will you find such lengthy bouts of shouting, rushing about and twitching, but then once in a groove the Vandekeybus needle has difficulty moving on. I found embarrassingly fanciful the analogy of men with chafing horses. Nor could I see why a bearded fellow should have hysterics in the nude, why a pillow should explode, or why an extra man should sit on stage throughout.
Like many of his generation, Vandkeybus is influenced by Pina Bausch's collaborative methods and mixture of media. But Bausch has originality, humour and, above all, a humanity that allows you to understand her performers. It is hard to engage with Vandkeybus's parade of ciphers and grotesques, or to be gripped by their terminally uninteresting multilingual monologues. The dance is raw, more about velocity than shape, but the simple energy of bodies charging through the air or pitching down in crashing rolls, comes as a relief.
Vandkeybus also projects a narrative film he has made with the intention (I think) of communicating the piece's other intended theme: that desire disappears when it is satisfied. A weird salesman travels about a fantastical city selling sighs, screams and words to equally weird and desirous customers. I would have asked for a blanket of silence, to throw over the performance.
On the other hand, Vandkeybus has a loyal British following who obviously find some catharsis in the pieces he has already brought. And Flanders rates him highly enough to name his company one of its cultural ambassadors.
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 As an ex prostitute, I urge all the political parties to commit to the Sex Buyer Law
- 2 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 3 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Goodfellas star Frank Sivero sues for $250m over Simpsons character
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - TV review: Silly, sensational and sensitive
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
MOBO awards 2014: Sam Smith sweeps the board with four gongs
The Apprentice, episode 3 - review: Lord Sugar hacks away at the deadwood with another double elimination
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'