It’s in the Air
A common scenario: a hard and rigid floor supports a dancer’s contrastingly soft and mobile body, whose precious suppleness is now and then projected to the firm ground. But contemporary artists’ bodies are no longer seen jumping. There is hardly any jumping anymore – at most, dancers are made to leap over something such as a table or some other handy relic from civilisation that is supposed to expose the hassle of our materialist existences. Jumping without a purpose, however, is considered uncool, un-depressive, and indecent.
But here come Mette Ingvartesen and Jefta van Dinther. The Danish-born Mette Ingvartesen studied at Brussel’s P.A.R.T.S., which implies that besides dancing she is familiar with theory and postmodern philosophy. Ingvartesen is furthermore gifted with an astute sense of irony. Among other things, she is known to have staged endless porno posing and thus constructed a porno farce in which five dancers, clad in blue full-body jerseys and looking as innocent as children’s toys, formed a seemingly endless series of sex sculptures. This abstract courting, entitled “To Come”, premiered at the Essen PACT Zollverein, where Ingvartsen and dancer Jefta van Dinther pondered on the notion of “jumping” over a period of several weeks. The result of their investigation can now be seen on stage and takes the shape of two large trampolines.
For more than 50 minutes, the two dancers are heartily jumping, hopping and bouncing on the springboards. For once, the fact that spectators are merely allowed to watch is somewhat cruel. Ingvartsen and Van Dinther slowly start rocking. The sporting device’s rhythmical creaking accompanies the duo’s movements like a percussion instrument, allowing Ingvartsen and Van Dinther to play with both musical and choreographic crescendi and decrescendi. The moments in which the two dancers’ precise synchronicity turns into an asymmetrical shift – when the simultaneous leaps turn into a succession or competition of jumps – are the result of a minute choreography.
“Ten minutes of trampoline jumping is like half an hour of jogging”, reads an article on Wikipedia. The dancers take off their shirts while jumping, but Van Dither’s gets caught on his head – the calculated mishap of a clown. Their bodies, mostly in a stiff pose, fly through the air as the rubber-soft floor catapults them back up: sometimes on all fours, sometimes in a diagonal line, and ultimately very loose and relaxed, eyes turned skyward: epiphanies of the liberated body.
Ingvartsen and Van Dinther are dialectically schooled: joy can also mean pain. Moments after the ecstasy their bodies lie exhausted on the trampolines. The device, which was once called “catapult”, keeps moving and, like a torturer, relentlessly pushes their bodies upwards – a sort of artistic adaptation of “The Red Shoes”. Eventually the two dancers take a last leap into the air. Blackout. They are never seen landing.
“It’s in the Air” is a concert in movement, a circus number, a reflection on dance, a children’s game, a piece of existential wisdom... It’s astonishing to see how much sense can be drawn from such a simple construction: two people jumping on a trampoline – and taking off, physically as well as intellectually speaking.
Nicole Strecker in Ballettanz, August 2008