Chimes jingle. A dancer flexes his foot, clutching desperately onto a red scarf. In your lap lands another dancer’s head. She twitches and pets your hair. On the other side of the floor—there is no stage—guttural growls emerge from a singer’s snarling mouth as a dog scurries around her feet. The smell of garlic overwhelms your senses, no doubt due to the cloves currently being stuffed into the mouth of a dancer in the centre. It’s a chaotic smörgåsbord of images—in every direction a new spectacle—and at many times, you don’t even know where to look.
This is no fever dream or bad trip; it’s the eclectic, sensual, primal work of Finnish choreographer Elina Pirinen’s new show with the Iceland Dance Company, ‘Rhythm Of Poison.’
“The essentials of the work are based on my own personal experience dealing with the artistic body, but also related to the feministic body and the deeply shared one,” Elina explains. “Our bodies are charged with many fantasmatic and peculiar processes and [the dancers and I] practise many weeks to make and enjoy the connections between those affectionate processes and the anatomy itself—the vulvic area, eyeballs, hair, tongue, saliva, teeth and nails.”
The movement of the show is subsequently heavily based around these areas, in fact, intensely so. In truth, while watching ‘Rhythm Of Poison,’ the viewer often gets the feeling that they’re in the midst of a physical breakdown, manic episode, or, perhaps, a debauched orgy.
It’s an apt experience, though, as ‘Rhythm Of Poison,’ Elina describes, is based on the larger need to show the libidian movements in dance art, or as she refers to it, the lust for life. “The lust for life is shared between all people, and it’s good to remind oneself that we are existentially people with despair, intimacy, desires and obsessions, not bourgeois and reasonable by heart. For me, I try to do work that is transgressive in the way that beauty comes from the unheimlich core rather than the imagery of person,” she says.
For dancer Saga Sigurðardóttir, Elina’s work, with its lack of stage, focus on audience interaction, and pure sensuality, has allowed a certain amount of delightful freedom in her movements. “You are bringing your own sensuality into the space,” Saga explains, a bright smile taking over her face. “I am fascinated by how Elina deals with intimacy. What does it mean when you are in a space full of strangers?”
Rhythm Of Poison…and jail
And though it’s but a small moment in the production, one cannot help but fixate on the fact that the performance involves dogs, which join the dancers and audience on the floor for a few minutes, running about the room, allowing pets and cuddles at their leisure. “They bring such wonderful energy to the space,” Saga laughs. “Liveliness. Pure liveliness!”
Elina has long been known for her transgressive choreography. For the artist though, ‘Rhythm Of Poison’ is just one step in her progression. “The older I get the wilder my stage becomes,” she says. Elina’s still young, though, so one can only dream about what she’ll be up to in five years. When asked, the artist smirks. “Jail.”
Info: Rhythm Of Poison will play on March 7th, 15th, and 18th at 20:00 at Borgarleikhúsið. Tickets are 4,900 ISK and you can buy them here.
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