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.
- An Evening for Hospices of Hope, Sadler's Wells Theatre
- 10 Questions for Ballerina Alina Cojocaru
- Hofesh Shechter/ Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Puz/zle, Sadler's Wells
- Mayerling, The Royal Ballet/ Le Jeune Homme et La Mort, English National Ballet
- Ecstasy and Death, English National Ballet, London Coliseum
Share this article
We at The Arts Desk hope that you have been enjoying our coverage of the arts. If you like what you’re reading, do please consider making a donation. A contribution from you will help us to continue providing the high-quality arts writing that won us the Best Specialist Journalism Website award at the 2012 Online Media Awards. To make a one-off contribution click Donate or to set up a regular standing order click Subscribe.
With thanks and best wishes from all at The Arts Desk
Latest in today
The brooding private detective is back
The welcome return of the legacy of photographer Erwin Blumenfeld
The mother of all vérité docs
Strauss's opera reluctantly enters the Battle of Britain courtesy of a...
Although only 7,500 Jews live in Poland, a space dedicated to their history...
Easy listening and continental European intellectualism combine on the earl...
New play about tragic Welsh diva Dorothy Squires misses the real story
Why are some Americans so seduced by the land of Downton? A native explores
The German artist plays with notions of the Romantic sublime
Stylistic mash-ups of album number six result in perfect pop