Two Become One
Two become one in a near seamless double bill from renowned Algerian-French choreographer Nacera Belaza, produced by Compagnie Nacera Belaza, in association with Corp_Real | Galway Dance Days and Irish Modern Dance Theatre. Receiving their Irish premiere at the O’Reilly Theatre, Belvedere, on Wednesday, November 29th, “L’infime” and “Création 2018: première impression” blend so easily into one another one could almost be forgiven for seeing them as a single entity. Yet blurring the edges is something this production excels at. With dance that hints of performance art, light that challenges the dark, movement arising from rootedness, both pieces converge in a twilight, liminal space, suggesting a place that exists on the periphery of vision, inhabited by the figments of a half remembered dream.
With “L’infime,” produced by Compagnie Nacera Belaza, Belaza first allows the darkness to settle, offering barely a smear of light in which she begins her unique, anchored solo. A subtle, yet quiet power emerges as hands and face absorb the frugal light, focusing attention, executing repeated patterns as Belaza undertakes a long nights journey into day, and back again. Alone on stage, her small frame comes to dominate the large darkened space, tempering the darkness with her palpable presence. A low, droning soundscape becomes rolling thunder as light and sound, beautifully realised by Christophe Renaud and Gwendal Malard, gradually increase as Belaza reaches upward. The short sequence gradually collapsing back to the floor before dissipating into the dark.
If the soloist gives way seamlessly to the sextet in “Création 2018: première impression” produced by Compagnie Nacera Belaza, in association with Corp_Real | Galway Dance Days and Irish Modern Dance Theatre, its a sequence that shares some strong affinities with “L’infime.” A gentle interplay of faint light and encompassing darkness, the result of a lighting design by Belaza, exquisitely executed by Renaud and Malard, along with a strong sense of anchored and rooted bodies, with feet firmly fixed to the floor, echo the texture of the solo performance. Yet it is its distinctions, often subtle in places, that make all the difference. Once again, rooted sequences and repeated patterns fade in and out of the light. Sequences suggesting individual responses, within broad choreographic guidelines, to heavy, driving, tribal beats. Yet, presently, dancers become unanchored, release finally arriving in an exquisite group sequence. Seeming random at first, dancers move this way and that, gradually crafting a circular pattern informed by a shared sequence of snapping, jolting, and jerking movements, before drifting off into disarray again. An almost ecstatic series of solos emerge towards the end, informed by a wild, frenetic energy. With dancers swiftly alternating, seeming to swap between improvisational moments like seasoned jazz musicians, a sort of release is achieved. Momentary, cathartic, both individual and collective, it disappears and dissolves with the fading of the light.
In both “L’infime” and “Création 2018: première impression” Belaza, along with dancers Aurélie Berland, Mariem Bouajeja, Millie Daniel-Dempsey, Mohammed Ech Charquaouy, Tycho Hupperets and Magdalena Hylak craft some trance like sequences at times. Trances of the heavy lidded variety in places, due to the deepened dark and near absence of light. Indeed, in both performances, the interplay of light and dark is equally as important as their respective movement sequences. Throughout, moments arise and moments pass as the dark passes into the light, which passes back into the dark again. Always Belaza ensures that if what you see is deeply evocative, what you don’t see, or what you think you see, is often far more exciting, disturbing, frustrating, and exhilarating. With “L’infime” and “Création 2018: première impression” Belaza weaves some shadowed, dark magic, casting an utterly hypnotic spell.
“L’infime” and “Création 2018: première impression” by Compagnie Nacera Belaza, produced by Compagnie Nacera Belaza, in association with Corp_Real | Galway Dance Days and Irish Modern Dance Theatre, premiered at O’Reilly Theatre, Belvedere, on Wednesday, November 29th.