Age of Content

Reviewer's rating

Kicking off the Théâtre de la MC2’s 2023-2024 season, Age of Content, presented by the National Ballet of Marseille, unveils a captivating ultra-contemporary dance performance, exploring the realms of offline and online existence.

The scenography immediately immerses us in a realm reminiscent of video games—a full-sized car shrouded beneath a white veil, a garage door that ushers in and out new characters, enigmatic cardboard boxes, and a moving staircase. Yet, this isn’t your typical stage design; it’s an active participant in the dance. The remote-controlled car waltzes alongside the performers, while a white curtain positioned behind the stage engages in its own choreography. This dance with objects becomes a poignant reminder of our addictions, both to the material world and the virtual realm, where one can lose themselves as quickly as they find their way.

In the early sequences, the dancers remain faceless, stripped of individual identity, all clad in identical sparkling green hoodies, matching sweatpants, and tennis shoes. Their hooded anonymity obscures their uniqueness as they oscillate between perfect harmony and complete discord, their movements mirroring one another within the confines of constraint.

But then, in a sudden twist, the stage transforms into a fantastical realm inhabited by bona fide video game characters.

Approximately fifteen dancers take center stage, masterfully mimicking the absurd gestures of these digital avatars. Laughter ripples through the audience, especially from the younger spectators who instantly recognize the iconic quirks borrowed from games like GTA and The Sims. This time, each dancer, akin to the avatars we create to look like us (or rather to look like the person we want to be), possesses a style, a face, standing out from one another: their identity is restored.

However, it’s worth noting that the performance was not without its share of challenges. Misplaced dancers and wardrobe malfunctions peppered the show, at times, detracting from the overall experience and rigor. The first part of the performance stretches on a tad longer than anticipated.

You have to wait for the second act, to truly see the magic unfurl. Here, absurdity harmoniously entwines with beauty. We witness erotic duets brimming with desire, bodies finding liberation while still ensnared in repetitive motions – a poignant reminder that even with distinct identities, we share common human traits.

The music, with its entrancing and repetitive beats, weaves a mesmerizing soundscape. It traverses the spectrum, from electrifying rhythms to ethereal operatic vocals. A moment of sheer joy emerges, as the dancers suddenly break into radiant smiles and the music becomes cheerful.

The show pushes the boundaries of creativity within the dance world, challenging our perceptions of reality, both online and offline. It invites audiences to contemplate the profound implications of our digital existence in an age where virtual identities have a tangible impact on our physical selves. This thought-provoking journey transcends the boundaries of conventional dance, inviting us to ponder the ever-evolving nature of our contemporary existence.

For those eager to experience this extraordinary performance, it’s set to grace the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris at the dawn of October. However, securing tickets might prove an elusive quest as they’re already sold out – a testament to the captivating allure of Age of Content.