Festival Schrittmacher in Aachen:  „2Faced Dance Company“ from Great Britain is opening the festival with their tripple bill „Run“

nightreview by Nicole Strecker

translated by Veronica Posth


It is quite unusual: A festival director succeeds in inviting some big names from the choreograph jet set, and then he does not open his event with the successful world stars like Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui or Hofesh Shechter, but with one, at least in Germany, No name -Group‘. No, actually the whole Schrittmacher Festival is a curious phenomenon: in a city where the dance practically does not take place for eleven months a year, the curator Rick Takvorian conceives a dance festival – and he lisps all theories claiming that dance needs a continuous public work. As he confuses 23 times with his program loved by the engaged enthusiasts and largely (but wrongly) unnoticed by the supra-regional Feuilleton, the spectators flock for years to the Kurstädtische border region, making the Schrittmaker Festival always sold out.

Since Takvorian pulls through various locations in the city and beyond to the Netherlands, he moves into the cool – also literally meant because: barely heatable – industrial hall steel construction strand where the audience keep the winter coats, pull behind. Those who are extremely loved may risk something: the „2Faced Dance Company“ from the UK, for example, with their three-part evening „Run“. Piece number one: „From Above“ by choreographer and company commander Tamsin Fitzgerald. She founded the pure men’s ensemble in Hereford in the agricultural West of England almost 20 years ago. She is involved in the community dance field and as she first started to inspire more men for the dance, she has been encouraging for several years until now to have more women to choreograph with the motto: ‚Take that, you macho choreographer world!‘ For them, this obviously also means breaking gender stereotypes and showing allegedly ‚heavy‘ street dance boys as soft-fluid vulnerable; as „digital natives“, who can not cope with the constant over-information.

„From Above“ – that means the new heavenly power: the permanent flicker of our information society 2.0. Three illuminated panels hang over the stage, spread glittering white light, tremble nervously and are brought by rattling chain hoist by the dancers in ever new positions. They are reminiscent of the solar sails of a satellite, which supply us with millions upon millions of data. As an electronic particle writhes in the vortex of ‚Big Data‘, a single dancer jerks first under the light source appearing more of a futuristic creature then a human being. His alienating whirl is prolonged by three men who lift him up, levitate him, put him in the run on their shoulders, make him balance on his knees. Spectacular lifting figures, body throws through the air, supple floor rolls. A gentle manipulation that the individual surrenders too readily give away. Man on the way to be cyborg, streams of digital swarm intelligence, controlled by the invisible energy. An exciting, dance-affine theme, which Tamsin Fitzgerald also promises in the beginning. But the longer the flow dance lasts and the street dance moves, but in the softness of modern dance, the more random looks the material. And above all: much too loud and far too bombastic is the soundtrack based on cello and piano that boom in the electro-blubber. A downside that applies to all three pieces: whoever opens up to such a huge amount of time, even hums the last thought from the brain. Too bad, because probably the choreographing ladies trio has pretty much brooded and ambitiously chosen the topics.

The British Rebecca Evans, for example, has pondered migration policy and stated: far too much fear.

In her choreography „The Other“, however, the refugee theme is largely eliminated, the fear remains. Dancer Jack Humphrey is the panicked creature, his colleague Jason Boyle an allegory of fear. He emerges from the darkness, grabs his victim, tears it away with him, crouch down on his neck. A sarcastic-evil demon that never gets caught and controlled. His victim, Humphrey, may be so desperate for self-empowerment, parade full of soldierly vigor, and clench his fist on the chest. Once the choreographer Evans lets her dance, the duo succeed pretty well between horror chimera and emotion-driven, but until then you have to wait a long time. The dancers endlessly complete a juggling number with mobile spotlights, until finally a little light has been brought into the dance darkness.

Strange, this help-seeking grip on the object, which is even more arbitrarily practiced in the last choreography of the evening, „Fallen Angels“ by Lenka Vagnerová – as if one would rather not trust the pure power of the bodies of the „2Faced Dance Company“. The guys of the ensemble are apparently ready for anything, being gently wafting Netz-junkies, sweaty fear aggressors or as in the final piece: Luciferian angel. Here the fallen crowd of heaven dances like the rebels of Hofesh Shechter. They throw themselves plastic bottles with red liquid as if they would have to satisfy a thirst for blood, clamp their arms under the T-shirt with wing-like protruding elbows – angels in straitjackets, and they need it, as nasty and violent as this Satan-brut attacks. However, images from the pieces of other choreographies – such as the human chains in Crystal Pite’s catastrophic episode „In The Event“ – are constantly in demand, and the aesthetics change as wildly as if the piece had been created as „copy-and-paste“ from Youtube clips. Certainly a supposition, but really to the point, the choreography comes only when a dancer with disheveled plumage shuffles on the stage, like a crashed Icarus, who survives his megalomania to his own shame. Reduced effect on this evening, less preposterous „woman-spreading“ would definitely have been more effective. And you would not only have wanted this contemporary gender project by Tamsin Fitzgerald and the „2Faced Dance Company“, but also the kick-off to „Schrittmacher“, the most uncompromising of all dance festivals.