There is pressure to be original and authentic, and re-invent oneself in choreography every single time. Collectif ÈS addresses this issue with wit and vitality in Jean-Yves, Patrick & Corinne.
For all of its playfulness the attitude here is defiant. Collectif ÈS gives the middle finger to conventions by standing completely still for powerful pop ballads. Not that that’s new, and they know it. Not that audiences wouldn’t recognise it, and Collectif ÈS knows that too.
The action segues from competitive aerobics to strangely fascinating, violent partnering in groups of three. These ever-changing trios among the five agile dancers keeps the choreography in dynamic revolution. It’s a stimulating way to approach the idea of theme and variations. The performance has finesse, and innocent, adventurous frolics often present in student works – but here presented in a more mature setting.
Jean-Yves, Patrick & Corinne – dated names for present questions. Choreographers Sidonie Duret, Jeremy Martinez and Emilie Szikora are keen on using popular material to scrutinize collective behaviours. The piece is a succession of sequences made of high energy dance, sampled 80s hits and faded old fashioned sports outfits – all souvenirs from the clubbing years. Whether caught up in never-ending manipulative dance or in the most typically old school synchronized aerobics, the five dancers don’t lack for drive or dry humour. They play on the repetition, the déjà vu, the contradictions, with that hilarious gaze at the audience, half taking us for witnesses, half begging for help – because they’re all substitutes to each other in this dancing machine. So you begin to wonder with them if they are replaceable. And a nagging question takes hold: aren’t we all easily replaceable?
When is a quintet not a quintet? Answer: when it’s masquerading, with hyperactive brio, as a trio. Dashing about onstage alongside newer company recruits Adriano Coletta and Alexander Standard, Lyon-based Collectif ES’s founding members Sidonie Duret, Jeremy Martinez and Emilie Szikora bring plenty of tongue-deep-in-cheek pep to a fast-paced (albeit overextended) in-joke about dancing and dance-making, with an emphasis on keep-fit aerobic dance routines circa the 1980s. Cued to a soundtrack of classic kitsch pop tunes and power ballads, sometimes truncated (although not ‘My Heart Will Go On’!) or often on fragmented loops, this sweaty, chaotically busy slab of throwback post-modernism also grapples knowingly with contemporary dance’s capacity for pornographic physicality. As a mocking dance marathon it might be too much of a fun thing, but the show’s broad yet clever kinetic wit and the tireless cast’s all-out, space-eating, ass-grabbing energy won me over.