performed by Paweł Sakowicz
Let’s jump! Loosely based on the mysterious circumstances of New York dance artist and Warhol actor Fred Herko’s 1964 death, "Jumpcore" researches the often inconspicuous and belittled motion of jumping.
Wearing sneakers, shorts and a marbled robe, Paweł Sakowicz repeatedly springs into the air like a boxer readying for a final round.
Deconstructing multiple dance traditions—ballet, rave, ballroom, folk—he restlessly and carelessly swirls round the stage, playing with our expectations as he shifts from virtuosity to a jocular unconcern.
The marathon of jumps is interrupted by an a capella rendition of Lana Del Ray’s "Gods and Monsters". With solemn irony, the performer pays tribute to the ruptured yet rapturous power of a restless bounce. Whether aligned with the beat or immersed in complete silence, Sakowicz vigorously reminds us of the joy of jerking into the air.
Although his fatigue becomes increasingly evident this jumper cannot give up. “Life imitates art”, he repeats after del Ray. I would gladly mimic his antics.
One of the historic poetic aims of ballet was to emulate the image of a weightless and ghost-like body, one that could leap into the realms of the sublime. The leap that inspired Jumpcore - the suicide dance of pop-artist Fred Herko, who jumped out of his window in an ultimate attempt to do something authentic - took this ideal a bit too far.
Paweł Sakowicz employs the dynamics of hopping and turning in different dance styles in a solo that is as ironic as it is consciously corny. Pirouetting and hardstyling to the best of his ability, his body doesn't take flight, but he doesn't seem to care. Dressed in a loose, brownish and cheaply-patterned robe plus a too-small undershirt, underwear and socks dyed accordingly, his attitude remains that of a snobby, vainglorious character. He explains, quoting Lana del Rey's lyrics a cappella: ‘A modern angel, sublime... life imitates art...´
Although vague in purpose, Jumpcore still hooks us through humour. Could this chaos be nihilism at its best? Or is it just a comment on the shallowness of it all?
To Mozart’s grand ‘Coronation Mass’, Paweł Sakowicz enters the stage in a hideous bath robe with matching hideous pants and the worst, slightly too short, belly-revealing t-shirt. With an air of self-importance, he begins to skip, jive and pony-trot. Always assuming that Jumpcore was meant to be ironic, Sakowic mocks the pretentiousness of ballet dancers, leaping around to tacky techno music with an adorably serious face. When the rave gears towards its frenzied break, you kind of want him to go for it – and he delivers, lashing about the stage in mock-balletic jetés and pirouettes. Afterwards he stretches while breathlessly singing a Lana del Rey song. No offence to Lana but her lyrics, laid bare, are hilariously kitsch. The whole thing is pretty unbelievable, supremely silly – but weirdly enjoyable. Made me giggle.
Slicing the space with his laser-sharp eye line, Pawel Sakowicz begins to jump. He spins, bounces to the left and back to the right. He spots, turning like a dial that constantly recalibrates to function on a shifting set of angles.
Just as the suicidal Fred Herko, the inspiration for the piece, may have jumped into the next life, Sakowicz bends and flexes his way to freedom - the pumping beats giving him a boost as he prepares for flight. Fixated on a far point in the distance, his focus suggests a yearning for his soul to be released.
But escape, he does not. His skull t-shirt glittering beneath his cape, Sakowicz stretches on the floor, singing about deceased rockstars and being an angel in a garden of evil. Still simmering from his thrill-seeking torment, he veers on the edges of sanity.
There’s no shortage of swagger in Pavel Sakowicz’s step as he strides onto the stage. In his short, tie-dye dressing gown (with matching pants) and glitzy t-shirt, he looks set for the boxing ring, the rehearsal studio or nightclub. The movement echoes his fashion choices, switching between slow rhythmic rock steps, balletic leaps and turns, and beat-driven dance floor energy.
The pleasure Sakowicz takes from his jumps, executed after much preamble, has an infectious quality – rendering sections of Jumpcore enjoyably watchable, even charming.
But like so many solo performers, his belief that the pedestrian choreography that surrounds these more dynamic moments is enough to carry the audience through is ill-founded. The motivation behind the piece falls away when it strays into self-indulgent meanderings, including two inexplicable renditions of Lana Del Rey’s Gods & Monsters. Fun for him, maybe, disengaging for us.