Jasmin Vardimon Company, FREEDOM, Sadler's Wells | Dance reviews, news & interviews
Jasmin Vardimon Company, FREEDOM, Sadler's Wells
Fighting talk in the programme notes, clunkiness in the staging
The Jasmin Vardimon Company bring their latest creation, FREEDOM, to Sadler’s Wells this week for two nights only. The work is best described as a collection of vignettes (supposedly) discussing the subject of freedom, and any conflicting conditions. The programme literature confirms that Vardimon is assessing “political systems, social conditions and personal philosophies” within the piece – which is seriously fighting talk that wasn’t necessarily backed up.
The work starts well with a diversely textured set (by Guy Bar-Amotz and Vardimon) suggesting a natural locale, all tactical green moss, supported by rainforest-like hangings that on closer inspection are made from industrial materials – an engaging contradiction (pictured below). The music begins loudly, and stays so as it interchanges between recognisable popular song (from the likes of John Lennon to Led Zeppelin), and atmospheric, electronic based muzak.
An initially arresting episode is a duet between a man and woman – which plays with the idea of passion, seeing them cover the stage with forceful embraces reached through a juvenile pattern of toing and froing. With the idea of freedom in the back of one’s mind – this seems like a realised display of sexual liberation; and the amount of space consumed through dynamic use of level is engrossing.
The same can be said for Vardimon’s movement language throughout, which has a true sense of flow. Though primarily floor-based, she has a gift for manoeuvring the human body from vertical to horizontal with an apparent molten ease, further accentuated when elevation is used to emphasise the change of angle. Sadly the same can’t be said for the majority of the other vignettes. This fact is fortified by a distinct lack of connectivity – verging on clunkiness throughout the work, from disparate concepts to amateurish staging of props.
Vardimon also chose to include text within the piece – which could have been her calling card for meaningful communication, but this wasn’t to be either. One of the dancers repeated a question throughout the work: “I want to tell you a story – it’s about, it’s about...” Which feels poignant, as by the end(ish) of the piece I felt the same – as in I had lots of questions that hadn’t been answered either. The cast of six dancers (three men, three women) did Vardimon proud though, as they seemed to be fully engaged with the work – both mentally and physically, and an appreciation of their corporeal feats is not to be ignored.
During her analysis of freedom, gender was bound to become a topic – and for me, Vardimon did it a disservice. The piece abounded with stereotypical characterisations – which didn’t help her pursuit, and gave mild offence along the way. From the victimised woman (by men), to the smoking, predatory femme fatale – reassuringly supported by the dim "I only think about sex" man, to the Man-Beast who seemed to take great pleasure in devouring on women like he’d been fasting for a lifetime.
The gender argument is a tempestuous one – but the subject of freedom is far bigger than sex, or any number of clichéd parodies, and Vardimon seemed to miss the boat concerning what she could have done with the contentious theme. And although the positive facets of her movement language are still apparent, they were far harder to trace within this overall disjunctive work.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
A feast of archive footage is some compensation for this season's narrow scope
Flamenco festival's opening number is no history lesson, but the dancing's all right
Archive footage of Margot Fonteyn among the highlights of a week of ballet programmes
Lauren Cuthbertson is an Aurora to remember in this sumptuous heritage production
East meets west in this sumptuous revival of a work by Taiwanese choreographer compared with Balanchine
Circus acrobats and Shostakovich give each other a lift
Pina Bausch's company stun and delight with this long-overdue return of a historic piece
McGregor's too thinky, MacMillan too tame; Ashton and McRae are the name of the game
Treasury of male dance comes into its own with a sprawling third outing
French choreographer courts chaos by letting kids run wild on stage
Deeply disturbing dance drama is a powerful piece of theatre
Natalia Osipova is one of the great Giselle interpreters of the age