There’s space, outer space and now, hyperspace. Willing to make us consider how much we use the human body to measure – and in doing so, to understand – the universe, James Batchelor proposes an overview on body and space. So please be contemplative for a while. His at first very static solo in slow motion gives the time to observe his bare-chested body covered with small black drawings. An open tooth, a record player, a rocket… just as you remember the constellations map: with clusters and gaps. And it all then moves with him. Mainly focused on his arms, the solo explores its measuring thing: the space between two drawings is a hand wide, those two on his chest get closer when he crosses his arms. He is his own cosmos – but you’re a telescopic distance away.
performed by James Batchelor and Collaborators
Slow motion has its rewards. James Batchelor’s unwavering focus as he lifts his hands off the floor in Hyperspace allows for details other performers might speed past. When he rolls through his hyper-flexible joints, his bent fingers briefly appear to turn inside out – the first of several intriguing images.
The Australian choreographer builds up to them with rare patience. His bare chest is dotted with temporary tattoos, and for a while, every arm ripple looks magnified; his deliberate way of pressing his fingers to his face and distorting it registers with eerie clarity.
Unfortunately, the cosmology-inspired Hyperspace was one of a handful of overlong solos in the Spring Forward line-up that would have benefitted from some editing. There is only so much attention a dancer can command while tracing the inside of his arm with a finger at a snail’s pace. At that point, Batchelor’s performance ground to a halt, with some way to go still.
Clad in black pants, torso covered in fake tattoos – random symbols such as a tooth and a turntable – James Batchelor offers undulating movements in super slow-motion. It is an invitation to marvel at the human body, study how the joints move in their sockets. Particularly, it appears to be an invitation to marvel at Batchelor’s body. Hyperspace feels so autoerotic, it’s indifferent towards the audience. His gaze is completely turned inwards so when he suddenly aims at us with one pointed finger and a killer look it feels random and hostile. Morgan Hickinbotham is live-mixing a soundtrack of white noise, beeps and sirens. There is a clear dramatic climax, with James distorting his face like wax under his fingers while increasing volume makes the whole space resonate. Ultimately though, we are excluded from this performance. Maybe James would have preferred a mirror?