In the first moments of HOME, Luis Marrafa establishes a hypnotic corporeal language of erratic gestures, convulsing twitches, shuddering limbs and wild eyes. A cohort of fifteen dancers then join him. The mass movement of the frenzied flock surrounding him becomes diluted; collectively they struggle to match Marrafa’s own trance-like command. A series of impersonal solos draws our focus to five individuals, yet raises more questions than can be satisfied: Who are these people, and what is their relationship to each other? If they’re having some kind of journey in this work, what is it? The magnetism of Marrafa’s opening solo lures us into a false sense of security. HOME finishes with each dancer gingerly distancing him or herself from the other. But what’s missing, crucially, is real human empathy.
performed by Luis Marrafa
Frenetic is how the fifteen dancers move in Luis Marrafa's Home. They twitch and cramp, their gestures are robotic and neurotically speedy. A large group occupies the entire stage in a quite irritating buzz. One dancer's grounded stillness contrasts with the crowd's uptight stir and the music's relentless pulsating beat. Although the work starts off with strong images and a disturbing intensity, Marrafa loses his grip as it progresses and also the vague sense of home he's trying to portray. Structurally the piece falls apart with a repeating pattern of solo versus group sequences. Marrafa can't seem to find enough motivation for those soloists beyond merely showing off their speed and precision. It's a pity because he’s tackling the highly urgent and certainly topical subject of immigration, but doesn’t manage to develop his initial ideas.
Choreographer/composer Luis Marrafa uses rhythm and movement to construct HOME. We first hear a repetitive electronic base in the dark. Then a man appears, tracing a physical melody of forced, expressive gestures over this soundtrack. A group of people enter. Wait, it's not a group. Rather, fifteen individuals facing separate directions, drawing over the monotonous rhythm with a movement cacophony that's somehow pleasurable to watch. The anxious dancers never look at each other, never connect. An Asian woman – a foreigner – is, however, received with uncomfortable staring and then left alone. But human contact in HOME becomes a weapon, visible in a trio where bodies both reject and manipulate each other. So, referring to the title, what is home? A silent, motionless body? A genuine connection, with one's self or with the other? Marrafa's choreography never really manages to reflect the central subject.
Portuguese choreographer Luis Marrafa’s opening solo of twitches and jerks in HOME is an arresting piece of corporeal animation set to a score of insistent pulsations. Thirteen others join him, forming an ensemble of isolated, neurotic clubbers so loaded with mechanical spasms it’s as if they’ve all developed motion-only Tourette’s syndrome. But woe was me as the work progressed. What did Marrafa and four other capable core dancers (including Marcia ‘strength in stillness’ Liu) want to convey? His superficially effective, self-composed music drives HOME without clarifying its purpose. By the time a seemingly endless, painfully silly passage of group skittering materialised round I was biting my nails out of complete disengagement rather than tension. Tack on a false ending, plus the female solo that actually draws this misguided effort to a close, and you’re left with sound and fury underpinned by a whole lot of ‘So what?’