Springback

Let Me Die In My Footsteps

performed by ME-SA / BOD.Y / Renan Martins de Oliveira

One male and three female dancers collide with rugby-like energy, bodies squeezed together, pushing and pulling until they decide to separate only to soon crush again with magnetic absorption. Let Me Die In My Footsteps employs simple actions and formations to illustrate the difficulties of social communication. The division into couples or three-against-one situations created a certain drama. Initial violence was later replaced by intimate caressing and playful celebration, but there were still too few elements to sustain a 39-minute performance. As a lover of minimalism, and sitting in the front row, I truly made an effort to observe subtlety. But the dancers showed little progress in movement, texture or concept. The only authentically 'open' body belonged to Gasper Piano, despite the surname playing an electric guitar whose vibrating sounds were beautifully echoed in his gestures.


Created by Renan Martins de Oliveira with dancers from the Czech company ME-SA, a drably-clad quartet’s emotionally under-layered, touchy-feely struggles were for too long the focus ofLet Me Die in My Footsteps. They staggered about the DEPO’s rather vast space in a sometimes revolving and tiringly tense cluster, accompanied by the initially reflective then cosmically noisy loop-machine music of the very much live guitarist Gasper Piano. Pacing a big circle like a four-headed human centipede was among the few, fleeting moments of interest. For the most part, however, this was a masturbatory exercise in energy-deflating small group dynamics, and much more for their benefit than mine. I felt trapped. Towards the end the cast swooped about in a shouty, self-consciously exhilarated manner, but too late for me to connect with any of their whooping, quasi-wild abandon. I rushed away, angry about time that felt wasted.


The four collaborative dancers in Renan Martins de Oliveira's Let Me Die in My Footsteps can't seem to separate from each other. They stretch across the stage like chewing gum, desparatelly pushing away but magnetically pulling back together again. The intensity of their contact goes through several variations: supporting, carrying, hugging, manoeuvering or gently touching. At one point they become a potentially interesting eight-legged body. By the end they spread all over the space, switching to a facial and verbal communication while fiercely running, still making us feel their invisible ties. The crisis of this school-like piece is not within it subject, as the programme note suggests, but the fact that Gasper Piano, the guitarist who performs off to the side with a full body engagement, often becomes more interesting to watch than the unpersuasive dancers.


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Spring Forward
28 – 30 April 2017

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