Best of BE Festival at the Barbican
From Waltz to the Mambo by Hungarian group Radioballet, choreographed by Milán Ujvári starts the night with some dramatic tension, as he walks to the stage to question the audience: “Do you like dancing?” This moment is subtly continuous throughout the piece as the artist provocatively and profoundly questions ideas of education and their presence in contemporary dancing, as a perspiring, effortful, strenuous path to sophistication. Through discourse, the artist creates a new language that is at times uncomfortable, as he reads theory of dancing with flair, proper taste, grace and professionalism. Milán’s performance at times could be more pressing, as only in some moments does he take control of the stage.
Loops and Breaks by Julia Scwarzbach from Austria set a different scene of theatre, ritual and interconnection. The artist gives the audience envelopes containing to-do lists during the act and very suddenly the room gains a whole new energy, through tension, motion and humour. The props are aligned onstage while the audience collects them as informed by this envelope. The actress swaps roles with the audience creating a vibrant atmosphere, until Schubert plays, stunning the audience with charm and flair. The role played by everybody allowed for intense 25 minutes of nerves, entrusting the audience with an active part in the act.
The atmosphere created by the actors in the first act was felt throughout the dining break. A dinner in a light, lively atmosphere was served to the audience, and allowing actors space for storytelling and moments of camaraderie. It is unusual to share a meal during a theatre performance, yet it enhances the uniqueness of this show for its audience.
The third piece, Waiting by Mokhallad Rasem from Belgium, takes themes from Shakespearean plays such as Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, and creates something new on the theme of waiting. “It can be an interruption, a pause, or an obstacle as we wait in our daily lives for an insight or a bus”; the artist questions the fundamental ideas and human experience of waiting through performance and film. The piece comes from the artist’s own life experience, as he left Iraq for Belgium and then waited four years for his visa papers.
Overall, this piece is strong and provides moving images to abstract thought.
Photo: Alex Brenner
The Birmingham European Festival was at the Barbican 8th-11th October 2014, and will be touring the UK until 9th November 2014. For further information or to book visit here.