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New impetus by young dance talent at PUNCH! Festival

PUNCH! is a fantastic festival. It shows how much beauty, news and surprise is created when the line between dance and performance is dissolved. PUNCH! promotes a refreshing view of the world and shakes loose entrenched interpretations. The young dance makers and performers show tremendous originality and creativity, which you will not only enjoy watching, you will go home more creative yourself afterwards.

The PUNCH! Festival and producer Dansmakers Amsterdam will receive less funding next year. They represent young, innovative talent in the performing arts. The outgoing Rutte government has dismantled the production houses, where young talent can mature,...

At PUNCH! it is not about dance that is offered bite-sized. You have to do something for it. But the makers make it a priority to share the space, the movements and their ideas with the audience. With words to this effect, artistic director Suzy Blok opened the PUNCH! Festival at Bellevue in Amsterdam. So PUNCH! is anything but a difficult festival that is far from the audience.

The opening performance .whatdowefinallyshare. by choreographer Fernando Belfiore echoes these words. The word 'share' is wearing off, thanks to social media. 'Sharing something' suggests intimacy and connection. But are these really there?

Two men and a woman move leaping and shrieking across the floor. The intensity rises. At first, the performance arouses wonder and scepticism. Is the art of movement being made fun of here? The energy of the dancers turns out to be hugely effective. What the dancers share with the audience ultimately remains a mystery and depends on what each one sees in it. But compelling it is. No one can ignore that.

<Hier filmpje: 121011 PUNCH 3 Marie Goeminne.m4v>

Nice to see "Que ser?" by Sofia Fitas and and "Pulse" by Marie Goeminne right after each other! They are as opposite as can be.

Que ser?

Two hands light up in the darkness on stage. The movements are minimal and yet the eyes are drawn to them. It is precisely the smallness and concentration that makes you experience the build-up to grand gestures like the raising of a storm. Very strong, the way Sofia Fitas manages to capture the audience with so few means and carries them away in the beautifully built-up tension.

Pulse

While with Sofia Fitas you could only see the contours of the body, in Marie Goeminne's 'Pulse' every muscle tension and every twitch on her face can be seen. Poetic texts full of pure nature lyricism on the back wall speak of a great, sweet longing. Performer Maaike van de Westeringh moves like someone awakening from a perfect sleep and wanting to find a secure feeling again on the cold, white-lit floor. 'Pulse' is of a touching purity. It is very beautiful the way Van de Westeringh grows strength and élan out of inspiration and vulnerability.

Photo Gerhard F Ludwig

'CMMN SNS PRJCT' by Martin Schick and Laura Kalauz has something of a talk show about our ingrained conceptions of economics. But a sagacious talk show. They give away all sorts of objects. The audience doesn't know what hit them. Delicious: getting something for free! Then Schick asks: 'Who has a T-shirt for me?' Suddenly, the idea of 'giving something away for free' feels very different. Schick and Kalauz constantly present the audience with unexpected questions and angles. All kinds of insights about wealth, distribution and life's happiness they share with the audience in the stands. What does 'This house is mine' mean? Who do ideas belong to? To whom do you belong? One raunchy leap after another brings them to the line between having and being. Unfortunately, Schick and Kalauz do not sustain the tension. It becomes too much of an ordinary conversation, with no boundary between performer and audience.

 

 They can be seen on the streets every day: people with their minds elsewhere. They show nothing of what is going on inside them, otherwise they run the risk of looking foolish. In 'About There & Here', a choreography by Jasper van Luijk, this boundary falls away. Performer Denise Klevering shows what happens when you give in with your body to the blows of painful memories. Klevering does this with an impressive charisma, very much immersed in her character's drama and without letting the tension slip for a moment.

 

Screeching brakes, desperate honking of horns. What happened the moment film legend James Dean crashed? In 'Soap Crash', choreographed by Clara Amaral, three girls give a canned version full of irony of this golden story. During the fatal car ride, tensions were brewing between Dean's boyfriend and an ex. Dean was a hero. Talking about him was exciting for young girls anyway, tragic accident or not. 'Soap Crash' is refreshing and original. The performers are razor-sharp, vocally, motorically and in terms of timing.

Signalling with flags. People used to do it in the army and scouts. Choreographer Jochen Stechmann uses flag-signalling in 'Signs' to give a humorous look at human communication and how difficult we sometimes find it to deal with agreed codes. Just the idea that people used to rely on this means to communicate over long distances gives flag signalling something endearing. Added to this is a wonderful, dry-comic facial expression from the three performers. Because of the signalling codes, they are quite handicapped. How do you convey 'I love you'? There you are with your flags.

 

A curtain dividing the stage in two. A man on the left, a woman on the right. This simple fact in Gabriella Maiorino & Cosmin Manolescu's 'Hi Bye' sets the senses on edge from the first minute. Two daydream worlds fill the stage. Will they mix? The scenes involuntarily evoke stories in the viewer. Whatever directions those stories take, they constantly make one curious about the ending. The evocative music, the intriguing appearance of the man and the woman and the gestures they seem to make at each other through the curtain from time to time create great tension and a startlingly surprising ending.

Those who dance do so themselves. This is so obvious that nobody thinks about it. The Mob subverts this obviousness. What happens when you let someone else do your dance moves? Bewilderment takes hold of you when you see how this can get out of hand. The performers (Emma-Cecilia Ajanki and Julia Giertz) do not spare themselves. No matter how far the dragging and throwing by performer Poul Laursen goes, they endure it without setting a limit. That such crushing expression can emanate from will-less, defenceless bodies!

Maarten Baanders

Free-lance arts journalist Leidsch Dagblad. Until June 2012 employee Marketing and PR at the LAKtheater in Leiden.View Author posts

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