On the opening night of Sónar Reykjavík, Martin Kilvády along with dancers from Iceland Dance Company and the Reykjavík Dance Festival performed a piece entitled ‘All Inclusive’ to music by local electronic duo, Mankan. The performance was visually aesthetic, not overly long, and humorous at times.
When it comes to events like Sónar, I tend to be of one mind with Principal Skinner: I’m not out of touch, it is the children who are wrong. The juxtaposition of finely dressed 60-year-olds on their way into the symphony next to teenagers dressed like hoodlums was comical. The 15-foot Smirnoff advertisement hanging over a neon-lit refrigerator full of beer littering the halls of Harpa was not.
Nevertheless, the opportunity to see the work by the acclaimed Slovakian choreographer was exciting. Martin Kilvády was a founding member of Les SlovaKs Dance Collective, a Slovakian dance company formed in 2006. Their work is characterised by energetic performances and fun, light-hearted themes. ‘Fragments’ (2013) transitions from a beautiful duet one minute, to what appears to be an impression of a member of the Lollypop Guild going on a four-minute long, angry rant in gibberish.
In a New York Times review of ‘Opening Night’ (2007), literature and theatre critic Claudia La Rocco describes the rambunctious improvisation, but summarises her assessment with, “The stories these marvelous movers tell are ever mutable. Nothing definite is said. And yet something very certain and specific to time and place is communicated”.
This was also true of ‘All Inclusive’. Without being at all patronising, the performance seemed to be a commentary on nightlife behaviours. It followed the progression of a night out from dancing on the floor, to a somewhat hazy interlude, to lewd intentions, to stumbling out. There was no real narrative, but it still managed to convey a statement.
…5 …6 …7 …8!
The piece started with the dancers on the main floor of Norðurljós (a.k.a. SonarHall) with the audience hugging the walls. The movement seemed to all be improvised, but had similar characteristics: breathy brushes, suspended inversions, and lateral extensions. The dancers themselves were a mix of members of the Iceland Dance Company and younger newcomers dressed in everything from dancewear to jeans; a truly ‘All Inclusive’ cast if you will.
Gradually, they each made their way onto the stage and gathered into a flocking formation with one dancer at a time breaking off in short solos. As Mankan’s score started to sound less like speaker feedback, and more like—well, music, its relationship with the dance became more symbiotic. “I always take music as partner. It is a relationship,” said Martin in an interview before the performance: “Music is a very inspiring partner.”
The result was no small feat: modern dance that did not seem entirely out of place in a club setting. There were Martha Graham-style contractions and Katherine Dunham-style isolations, but they were integrated into the overall atmosphere so effortlessly it looked like a natural alternative to the usual bouncing and fist pumps.
The master class
About halfway through the performance, the piece turned into a comical interpretation of nightlife. Imagine explaining what happens at a rave to an alien in Morse code. Aspects were lost in translation but foundation of the idea was still there.
It began as some dancers shifted their centre of gravity downwards for a “cooler” pose and sported the traditional hip-hop frown, while others attempted a robotic humping movement with bewildered expressions. The dry ice was turned up to create a smoky ether as the dancers took on increasingly lost stares. Eventually, they all disappeared in the smoke, only to later rise up from a pile on the floor of the stage. The lights came up as they moved towards the doors of SonarHall in forced, disjointed movements that looked as though they were being forced to leave.
What made it entertaining was the sense they were going through the motions without any understanding why. The precision of each step made it clear that this was part of the show, and not a result of the performers actually not knowing what they were doing.
Take a bow, or not
I am eager to give credit to a good performance, but sometimes the never-ending applause can become extremely irritating. So, it was a refreshing change of pace when no bow was taken for ‘All Inclusive.’ Some audience members seemed a bit confused and clapped for the empty room, but the performance had ended and the usual doting was unnecessary.
In her review, Claudia La Rocco wrote that Martin, “seems to bear the faintest echoes of story ballet”. There was no message or judgement, but nonetheless he did tell a story with his choreography. The choreography was fun and dynamic, the commentary was entertaining, and the dancers were excellent. This performance was definitely worth braving the rave.
Read Anna’s interview with the choreographer behind ‘All Inclusive’ here.
Posted February 20, 2016