Jasmin Vardimon - YESTERDAY
A means to share, describe and reminisce.
Living in a city littered with performances every evening (London), drives me to pick a few every odd month. And while I watch them, I take mental notes, sometimes grab a quick unobserved image over my phone or record a sound piece to take back home and store up within the bank of things I will go back to every now and then.
I walked into THE PLACE at Euston square almost a year ago, knowing not very much about Jasmin Vardimon. I'd heard of her prowess over the artform given her presence at a few dance festivals that friends had once mentioned, but save that and a few youtube videos (to check if buying tickets would be worth my while), Jasmin Vardimon Company, wasn't particularly within my umwelt.
If a retrospective of ten years of work looks like what I saw that evening, it sets a very high benchmark for any artist in any sphere of performance to live upto. For a company to produce a body of work that braids technology, dramaturgy and dance so rather seamlessly, is nothing but a feat unmatched. The performance draws in it's audience as they walk in and take their seats. And the long curtain call almost cheers out an encore.'Yesterday', the retrospective piece by the Company is a tale of triumph, of endurance, dexterity and above all, a collective notion of enraptured space and time. A movement pattern etched out so completely on a palette that comprises the human body, the lines in space and driven form, music , technology and carved space within an intimate setting for a captive audience. It defies every rule in the game, every note on the score and every point of contact with the piece that the audience already presumes. The performers, aren't smaller cogs in the wheel that turns deftly and spans a duration of evocative latitudes. They are, but the larger system that allow the weft of technology and stage properties to be woven within. The affordances of the object, the human body, the screens, projections, lights and sound are stretched elastically and they garner shape that the choreography lends them to creating multiple strata of poignant frames and freezes that progressively form the whole.
The performers almost lend their bodies to the performance and stand away, in ekstasis, watching their limbs take forms that instill meanings and methods beyond their own means. The bodies buckle, fall, bounce and drift across the stage like marionettes in the hands of a lucid dreamer. Their skins become almost transluscent media for creating larger pieces of automatic art, canvasses for detailed maps and elongated mindspaces. The facets tell their individual stories yet they don't add up to the whole. Infact, the summation of piece lies in grander truths that the performers explore and astutely convey. Form dissolves into darkness and the eye traces the outlines of what remains or may have been. Escapades and stolen notes from diaries of youth come to life upon a stage set afire by souls in stop motion, watched in their personal staccatos and legatos. One stares into a theatre laboratory and finds a madhouse of scientists busy at work, imploding intentions and preserving the inviolate.
The collective energies propel the performance into a league, unmatched. The narratives seep in from the lacuna, as the performers breathe spirit into the ordinary and make it indelible. Humor, strikes its note and the falsetto echoes a sympathetic chorus. The dramaturge, sits perched on the throne (or in this case, the chaise lounge) the choreographer sits nimbly upon, with those who infuse the night. His role, is perhaps the most pivotal in the series of works that the audience is subjected to. And as elements of mass choreography tend to play repetitions (which does help hold the performance together, though I did hear people complain about similar routines), the dramaturge smokes his pipe and blows rings in phosphorescence. Thermal screens, live projections, stylised videos, animated sequences, simplistic prop elements and costume, basic percussion and lighting plots set the ball rolling. In this case, it's almost a dribble run.
Each piece is short, concise and structured within the meta-narrative almost gleefully. The dancers emote, sing, squeal, shout and thump almost as well as they swing their sinewy frames across a gargantuan expanse that seems too little to contain them. Yet, they stop when they do, robotically, mid-motion, mid-air, mid-speech, mid-thought and mid-intention, choreographed, almost by a ghost pull or swerve that changes their trajectories and delights at newer syllogisms.
The audience, on its part, forgets to breathe. Some, forget they gape. I think I did also observe people clasping shut the mouths of those they accompanied as the performers lined up for a curtain call.
A standing ovation, but obviously.
To find some of their work, here's a youtube lead.
Similar searches may reveal more recordings. Certainly, a performance company, way up on my list of favourites.