A bare lightbulb hangs in the centre of a stark white stage. Against this minimalist setting, a quartet of black-clad dancers articulate their bodies. Initially there is just the sound of a cello bowing at one pitch, but as melodic layers build, a partita by Bach becomes recognisable. With Opus, choreographer Christos Papadopoulos investigates how we hear music, and proposes a way to see it. Clean, linear movements translate the purity of Bach’s harmony into dance. In this symbiosis between body and sound, an octave is described by two dancers in unison, and silence equals stillness. A simple inclination of the head evokes the melancholic minor key. As the piece develops, the simplicity of the proposition becomes transparently complex. The dancers travel little, but their intricate scores are tightly woven into each other. The effect is entrancing, and deeply absorbing. A lightbulb was unnecessary – the idea and its execution were luminous enough.

The bright white stage, starkly lit by neon lights, looks like a blank page of sheet paper waiting to be composed on. A dancer enters the stage, dressed in black similar to an orchestral musician’s attire, seemingly the embodiment of this concert’s first note. As soon as the music starts, his movements follow it to the millimetre.

The other three dancers join him one by one, each body resonating with the tune of their own instrument. It seems as though they are playing the music with their entire being, such is the precision of their melodic incarnation. Their vocabulary is restricted to the barest necessities, yet each micro-movement feels so imperative that the slightest twist of an arm becomes huge, and every look suggests a connection between them.

A single idea, crisp, undiluted and beautifully brought to life: choreographer Christos Papadopoulos makes music visible in OPUS.

Lying on his side, it’s as if dancer Georgios Kotsifakis has a hydraulic spring inside his arm. It rises, bends, lowers, but not in the usual way, more like an animatron governed by somebody else. Which in a way, he is - only the hidden puppet master isn’t a person, but an instrument.

Every time we hear a bow pulled across the strings of a cello, Kotsifakis moves. And, one by one as he’s joined by three fellow dancers, a quartet of instruments builds on stage. The music of Bach, discordant at first, gradually morphs into something beautiful, with each note assigned a movement: a twist of the foot, upward reach of the elbow, tilt of the head.

It’s testament to Christos Papadopoulos’ skill as a choreographer, that despite being largely rooted to one spot, the dancers’ movement never becomes tiresome – just a fascinating display of music in motion. 

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Spring Forward
23 – 25 March 2018
Sofia, Bulgaria

Watch on demand: aerowaves.org/springforward

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