August 7, 2019
Sasha Waltz’s Impromptus is a dance of soft running, spirals, falls, suspensions, intersections of lines in repetition that happen on a broken platform designed by her and Thomas Shenk. That set is immediately a clear sign of fracture, maybe a rift.
Impromptus, danced by seven dancers and composed in 2004, is the first piece that Waltz developed to classical music: the four Impromptus by Franz Schubert, here played on a concert grand by Cristina Marton and sang by Judith Simonis.
The magnificent music elevates the soul, even while looking at a duet that, although delicate and graceful, may not fully merge with the musical composition. There is a disconnection with the score as they couple immerse themselves in their strongly balanced movements. Others join the stage softly running across and around it. It appears haphazard; like watching a busy agora.
A sense of lightness floats over the light-hearted scene until lifts start between two men and two women. The demanding physical interaction changes the atmosphere. The strength and resistance of both couples, holding for a long time a body that is climbing and descending, is pretty remarkable. From the shaking legs of the two men, it’s clearly quite a challenge too.
Abstraction through expressionist gestures run through the entire piece, which seems divided into two parts by compulsive scribbles on the stage platform. Resembling energetic children, performers furiously draw circles before using black and red chalk on other, now standing, lingering bodies. As if a ritual ceremony, a dancer marks another’s limbs in a way that recalls organic substances.
The use of pigment on feet, arms and faces brings a new energy; intriguing and less predictable images. Now the dancers are dirty and consumed. In this new, ravaged scenario there is a dramatic yet pulsating energy. A sense of abandon and loss is palpable as the dancers keep moving in duets and groups; confused but relentless and untouchable.
A woman and man, who previously entered the stage wearing plastic boots full of water, wash the coloured feet of the others. Suddenly, a small bathtub opens up and three women start bathing and playing with water. As they cleanse and amuse themselves, it brings to mind beautiful images of paintings that depict the pleasure of bathing women. Following the frolicsome scene come two more duets, both exquisite and very well performed.
Movements and words that keep repeating are a loop of action; maybe an unsolvable dilemma. Eclectic and enigmatic duets create a different form of deed. Fluid and fresh the conversation between strong yet released bodies changes continually changes the dynamics. Sasha Waltz’s Impromptus: a fascinating and engaging work.