Monday, 26 January 2015

Plexus

Plexus, Aurelién Bory / Kaori Ito, Sadler's Wells - reviewed on 22nd October

There are no circus tricks in Aurelién Bory's Plexus. The whole piece feels like a trick - or rather a puzzle - that the audience has to work out.

Photo: Aglae Bory
The show opens with dancer Kaori Ito standing centre stage in front of a large black curtain. Holding a small microphone to her chest, the sounds of her heartbeat and breathing are audible as her movements increase in aggression from almost stillness to frantic shaking.

From behind the curtain, a maze of more than 5,000 densely packed threads - extending at least 12 feet high between two huge wooden panels to form an enormous cube - transpires. Ito stands and sways in its centre, pausing in a range of gravity-defying poses only made possible by the support of the strings. Later, with lighting that makes the cube appear like a mass of rain and fog, Ito appears suspended in mid air. In fact, she has climbed up and is gripping onto the strings, but the effect - of a fragile figure floating in a grey mist - is mesmeric.

Interestingly, Plexus's concept began with a life-size puppet which Bory asked Ito to play with and learn from. After a while, Bory got rid of the puppet but kept (and multiplied) the strings. "Ito is a wonderful dancer. So I wanted to put her in an impossible space to dance... to slow her down", explained Bory in the post-show talk. "I don't see the strings," countered Ito. "I see the holes - the space between. 5,000 strings means 5,000 ways to go."

I didn't feel like I understood Bory's intentions - to explore Ito's body and sense of identity - but Plexus was nevertheless a thoroughly engaging show. Trying to work out the number and layout of the strings and the meaning of the choreography, as well simply enjoying the beauty of Ito's movements, kept me utterly riveted.

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