Plexus at Sadler’s Wells
The room is plunged into a complete and claustrophobic darkness. Slowly the figure of Kaori Ito is illuminated standing against a billowing sheet. Ito then fixes a microphone to her body allowing the audience to become aware of the finely tuned mechanics that form it; the rhythm of her heart and the regularity of her breath, Ito’s Plexus.
Plexus is part of an on-going series of portraits by Bory that aim to investigate individual female dancers. Plexus refers to the muscles’ inner system: the interlacing network of blood vessels or nerves. While tonight’s Plexus is an exploration of Japanese dancer Kaori Ito’s anatomy, it is also an exploration of how her body has been formed by dance – how experiences have intertwined to produce the Ito of today. This is the intention of the show’s director, French visual artist and choreographer Aurélien Bory.
Bory is known for his pieces that incorporate stunning design; Plexus delivers on this front as Ito disappears into the curtain that, as it swallows her, falls to reveal a floating cube of taught strings, a space that confines the dancer.
A proliferation of voices is experienced in the piece as Bory explores how Ito has been informed by her collaborations with other choreographers. Ito is trapped in her prison of strings moving in fantastic abrupt phrases – floating, thrashing, pausing in wonderful shapes – and as if not by her own volition. She is portrayed as a vehicle through which choreographers voice their visions, a puppet whose strings are unseen. Through being a muse for a series of contemporary choreographers such as Alain Patel, Angelin Prelijocaj and James Thierrée, Ito has developed.
While Ito and the cube are enough to amaze, Bory’s use of sound design, which is created by Ito’s interaction with the strings and movement of the cube, and light projection are also ingenious. A stamp of her feet and a thud echoes through the audience; a change of light and Ito disappears. The intertwining of these elements is the grand illusion of it all as Ito is simultaneously master and subject. It is unclear where one begins and the other ends. While it is an environment that limits her and affects her dance it is also an environment that she acts upon and it she who creates. She is equal with it, as sound, staging, lighting and dancer intertwine seamlessly to create a visual masterpiece.
One can’t help but leave feeling spellbound at this stunning display of artistic investigation by Aurélien Bory and Kaori Ito.
Plexus is on at Sadler’s Wells until 23rd January 2015, for further information or to book visit here.