Dream a little dream; Dance

RUI HORTA THE PLACE LONDON

TIME AND space are both defined by water in Rui Horta's new work Zeitraum, which he translates as "the space of time". Filmed images of water flow swiftly across the back of the stage; a small fish tank at the front is moved now and again by the dancers. One of them adds to its contents repeatedly by spitting out a mouthful of water brought from backstage, and at the end another, putting it down insecurely, spills it across the floor.

In this setting, two women and four men seem to explore their own physical skills and contrasted personalities. Flat on the ground or upright, their positions are mirrored by some long metal tubes which they fit together, raise vertically, lay down as floor dividers, or even use like spears to invade the audience.

Soap, the company from Frankfurt which he often brought to The Place over the last decade, has been dissolved, but his new team in Munich, called Rui Horta, is just as good. One of his long-term collaborators, Olga Cobos, is still prominent among the dancers, and another, Anton Skrzypiciel, is active behind the scenes.

Some of the movement is quite specific, when they pose like birds in flight, for instance, or one tries to block another's path with results that are part threatening, part comic. The men have a long fight, but it is highly stylised, not at all realistic. In fact, the two women push or trip one another more forcefully in the course of a competitive duet.

And, need I say, there is no defined story here at all, so spectators are free to interpret these images as they wish. A metaphor for our own lives, perhaps? A nudge towards looking with different eyes at the world around us? Lewis Carroll is one of the authors quoted in a programme book, and his crazy logic could be a good way to approach the work.

Alternatively, you may prefer to watch it only as movement inspired by the visual images the dancers find around them and on those terms, too, it works and holds the interest. Is there a reason why one man mutters and smiles, even sings, to the apparent distress of his comrades? Do the head balances mean something?

I was hardly conscious, while it happened, of the accompaniment by the music collaborative Yens & Yens; only when leaving did I become aware of how discreetly it had supported the action, while Horta's own light design, by changing texture, brightness and shape, constantly redefined the area of the stage habitable by the dancers, to fascinating effect.

John Percival

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