MCDC (Michaela Cisarikova Dance Company) is an international dance company that embraces creativity and thinking outside the box. The brainchild of emerging choreographer Michaela Cisarikova, debuted a triple bill on Friday night (20th May) with all the right enticing ingredients.
Aside from my breaking and entering, (I stumbled into the building through two different entrances only to be told they weren’t yet open) the evening started well. A string of people strolled into the venue to a basement with soothing music from special guest Simone Sistarelli.
That quickly changed to funky, upbeat tracks (and at times haunting James Blake like compositions) as Sistarelli playfully mixed with his Maschine (Native Instrument). It felt like an underground music venue, which was a very welcoming introduction to the show.
We were greeted by Plasix, an assortment of a physical contemporary piece choreographed by the artistic director. We witnessed six dancers travel through a “seamless juxtapositional metamorphosis of contrasting locations” – from an airport to a windy mountain, and a beach to what I assumed was a playground. The dancers explored a playful, childlike phrase at one point (as grins married with gentle twirls, and hugs came in abundance). The breakdancing six-step principle was also observed intriguingly as two dancers crawled in with shoes on their hands, mirroring each other at times.
Plaisix felt very strange. The performers, regardless of good technique, did not emulate the “emotional journey” we were meant to be taken on. Rather, a bird’s eye view of eclectic scenes, each passing by slow enough to be observed but fast enough to deny being drawn in.
Perhaps there were stimuli at odds. How does one create an engaging journey from quick travel through juxtaposed, eclectic scenes? And how does one maintain the idea “there is nothing to get” by attempting to create an “emotional” journey? Plaisix felt unfulfilled. A performance not matching its intentions.
Who, Wants, What, choreographed by Ania Straczynska, continued a running theme I remarked – water. The previous performance had an interesting beach scenario where the choreographic intentions matched that of waves. Similarly, the opening visual was of Nick Herman standing with an inflatable ring around his ankles, as he majestically (and quite drolly) performed a series of swim strokes. One quickly turned into three (Kayleigh Atkinson and Cecilia Berghall). And what began as a violin composition turned into a 90s-like house music. With great, elegant strides, the two female dancers in swimwear joined the stage and progressively competed with one another for the man’s attention – a tad cliché.
Straczynska and Cisarikova’s love for slow motion became very apparent. The total breakdown of movement really compliments the idea of water and demonstrated the dancer’s control. Who, Wants, What was pretty to look at, with little moments of clarity in movement.
The evening closed with Riah, a return from Cisarikova. It got off to a slow start. Accompanied by an eerie hum, dancers shuffled around Nick Herman in a repetitive phrase holding elongated mesh fabric attached to his head. Almost resembling a maypole. The premise of the piece is the exploration of a world where a person’s hair could store memories, and a gentle pluck of each strand could remove said memories for good.
The piece, after a lengthy exploration of what the hair signified, came to life when static noise resonated around the room. And, as if possessed, the performers broke out into an erratic ensemble of loose and violent flailing.
It got better and better. The peak was the darkness of the stage being broken by a flashlight, held by Nick Herman. His successive highlighting of each dancer (now surrounded by strands of fabric or ‘hair’) which could be seen as representing memories, was simply brilliant. There were clever reactions from each dancer – at times smooth, elegant movements, and at times jerky body contractions – all appearing to be the replaying of good and bad memories. It was impressively envisioned on stage. The intention, the aesthetic, the composition. It all meshed together to elevate a great idea, marking MCDC’s potential. And this is rightly only the beginning.
I described the evening as a timeline. A progression of shaky attempts, mixed with the competent, slowly blooming into the ‘what-could-be’. The true metamorphosis.