It’s commonplace for male dance duets to be based on conflict of some kind, but Žigan Krajnčan and Gašper Kunšek’s Alien Express is no common duet. Yes, it includes rivalry and oneupmanship – Kunšek clambering up Krajnčan’s spine to claim pole position, for example – but the flop-haired pair are more puppyish playmates than topdog contenders. Krajnčan’s jazzy humming – scrappy, intermittent and rather endearing – acts as a vocal counterpart to the improvisational dancing, with its raggle-taggle style, its tussles and its tendernesses. There’s cartoonish tomfoolery, mock-wrestling, a little salsa-styled handholding, touches of hair-ruffling. All body parts are up for grabs, but there’s no awkwardness of affect. Only in one scene, torsos convulsing as they slowly tear apart a tight embrace, is there a sense of real pain. Otherwise, the dynamic is all about conviviality, companionship and finally love. This is very disarming.
performed by Žigan Krajnčan and Gašper Kunšek
Floppy-haired Slovenians Žigan Krajnčan & Gašper Kunšek are topless and baggy-trousered with confident glee and freedom that only comes with youth. With a combination of rough-and-tumble and tenderness, smaller Kunšek climbs and swings over and around Krajnčan’s torso as he sings - rudimentary acrobatics but with have-a-go flair. The artists’ movement shows the joyous and chaotic hallmarks of a mixed background incorporating musical theatre, urban dance and football. They body-pop to classical music, vaguely competing, their backs undulating and then without warning stop to open a door signalling a tonal change. The boisterousness calms and centre-stage the two embrace tightly – love is visibly exchanged – before slowly they start to convulse, their bodies pulling each other apart while their hearts keep them close. The two have an intimate friendship and this piece is a jubilant ode to co-dependence and mutual support between young men.
Do you remember your childhood best friend? Who filled your world with adventures and nonsensical fun? That person who was always there, as if you could never have thought that some day they may not. Alien express makes us smile from our hearts, because it calls our inner child to tell us of those days, when all was beautiful in its simplicity.
We watch Zigan Krajnčan and Gašper Kunšek explore the possibilities of their bodies together as one: body rolls, limb entanglement, rebounding jolts, loose salsa passes and play-fighting, until they create a language which they will hold throughout the performance, even when they stand apart. For the body keeps memories for ever.
Towards the end, their friendship is threatened, they embrace awkwardly in a mixture of body-jerking pain and longing, yet they bear through it, rising in climax until they find each other again. Perhaps a comment on the difficulties masculine friendships face when growing up.
These Slovenian guys effortlessly win audiences' hearts. With a background in break dance, and no formal training in contemporary performance, they have a lot of fun improvising a sequence of movements that reveal a deep and special bond based on mutual trust and love. It's touching and humane to see two young men onstage being tender, open and honest in their physicality, without compromise, falsity or conformity to gender norms. They follow no trends or currents, they are brave, with a fresh perspective, and they are thinking freely with their bodies. Their work is a must-see if you want to feel reinvigorated to live your life in your own way.
Apologies to my readers for not describing soberly Alien Express. I can’t. Writing this after twelve hours, I’m still under the influence of the irresistible Žigan Krajnčan and Gašper Kunšek. Their endearing and authentic bond isn’t alien at all. Well, it could be, as their structured improvisation reminded me how true friendship and love should be compared to the alien reality of our times. Responding to this show, I’m like a teenage girl secretly in love with somebody---or should I say somebodies? Krajnčan sings ‘All of Me’ while Kunšek grabs him, jumps on him, spins his head and, like a beautifully naughty child, doesn’t leave him at peace. Alien Express is an energetic, honest and fresh expression of instant emotions, actions and needs. It springs easily between lyricism and comedy and from silent theatre to quite a disarmingly vocal one. May I say that I loved loved loved it?