Two talking heads on stage – the performer's faces projected on sculptures - dialogue 'about nothing': the content of Ohne Nix. Dancer-related reflexions like the problems in remembering a choreographic phrase or the capacity to compose movement turn into ironic demonstrations that – in a sad way – illustrate the conventions of contemporary dance. Simultaneously, the performers transform themselves into rough-cut virtual puppets: pathetic sexualized objects or happily clubbing 90's people to evoke the superficiality of mainstream culture. Is the (dancing)body facing its final crisis? How can we combat the perfection of virtual bodies? Does dancing even make sense? In a society of bodies in crisis for their appearance, productivity, or simply for being a little too human, Ohne Nix resolves all conflicts by making the body itself disappear: the dancers are secondary characters in their own performance, but remind us that 'nix' backwards sounds like 'skin' - pure flesh as the reverse of 'nothing'.
performed by Luke Baio & Dominik Grünbühel
Coming from the strong tradition of the Viennese scene, Dom & Luke are approaching critically the very essence of dance through a smart, self-conscious duet that constantly comments on itself. The piece starts with digital versions of their heads talking about form and content, laying bare all of the show's technical elements (projectors, speakers, smoke machine) and constantly returning to the nothingness of the title as an emptiness charged with potential. When their two bodies eventually materialize physically onstage various strategies to fill up that void are offered and rejected: well-executed but outdated choreographic languages; self-referential imagery only readable for insiders (i.e., the digital merging of bodies that have been collaborating for a decade); esoteric exploration of the inner self (via vocalising faces projected on torsos); and a throwback to pre-digital culture of the 90s with a disco dance routine. Eventually the show leaves us asking ourselves what is behind the digital face. Are any of the discourses that are shaping our lives actually ours, or has the mask become our true face?
A contemporary dance performance endowed with a sense of humour is a not unwelcome proposition. That the title of Luke Baio and Dominik Grünbühel’s sly Ohne Nix translates as ‘Without Nothing’ is a clue to the kind of clever-clever, high and (mostly) low-tech games they want to play. The methodical pile-up of droll post-modern elements commences with ironically contextualising dialogue by their own disembodied faces and goes on to include imaginary spectacle, gently mocked movement clichés, pseudo-aquatic body-morph projections, inert ‘sexy’ dancing, ‘90s nostalgia and the ephemeral beauty of dry ice (which could be Euro-dance’s new nudity in terms of its prevalence during Spring Forward 2017.) What these two japesters get up to is all reasonably engaging but, I suspect, sans a lasting impact. That may be part of the point. It’s a show I liked that I might have liked to have liked more.