Brighton Fringe 2019
A fusion of the modern and the mythic, this dance performance questions our place in the modern world. As a species, are we able to be truly authentic or do we simply exist via a complex series of unconscious routines, rituals and ‘coping mechanisms’ in an attempt to navigate the pressures of our modern world.
Conceived by choreographic collective, NEON whose aim is to investigate human behaviour and gender topics. It’s collaborators, Nanna Hanfgarn Jensen and Leon Emil Franzke present Körper, which won the international prize at Amsterdam Fringe Festival 2018, and is the follow-up to Körper Körper, a filmed piece that was first screened in 2018. It forms part of the Dutch Season for the Brighton Fringe Festival at The Spire and is a reimagining of the biblical story of Genesis, juxtaposed with today’s rat race within the stark reality of neo-liberalism and capitalism of today.
The performance space is sparsely decorated with pools of light showing tailored suits hanging ominously on hooks, shoes, a chair, a guitar and a microphone stand. In contrast, we hear the tweeting of birds and Jensen and Franzke enter in near naked attire and lie down, their bodies entwined in a harmonious yin yang curl. Movements are indicative of naïve fascination, grooming and exploring each other with innocence. The inevitability of the suspended work uniforms encroaches on their awareness and they clothe themselves, both in suits and high-heeled boots. In response the choreographic style shifts from gentle fluid symbiosis, becoming repetitive and constrained. Bodies loaded with tension perform mechanistic actions. Driven by a thrumming bass line, the two automatons rhythmically grinding away at the coalface, building momentum until eventually they collapse exhausted to the floor. Cycling back to birdsong they seek solace in on one another to cope with the monotony and after a brief respite are drawn back again. Beaten down and unable to resist the system, they turn on eachother in frustration.
Körper, which translates as ‘Body’ aims to represent the eternal struggle within the human experience and the yearning for a harmonious existence. Are we really able to find contentment in our own skin? How conscious are we in daily life? Do we idealise the pre digital age? These are complicated concepts to fit into a relatively short piece and while the question posed is not a new one, Jensen and Franzke’s depiction of becoming a drone-like cog in the wheel is particularly well-observed and executed and the potential for expansion is clear and I look forward to further works from NEON.