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Sadler’s Wells, London


According to The Telegraph, the London International Mime Festival “never fails to throw up an intoxicating mixture of the beautiful and the strange, the wondrous and the baffling”, and Plexus is a perfect example. Aurélien Bory and Kaori Ito have created an impressive piece of visual theatre, a crossover of dance theatre and art installation.

Lights out and the proscenium is a billowing black curtain, Kaori Ito lit in bas relief. She holds a microphone to her chest and we hear the beat of her heart, her rapid breath – the rhythm of which sets the pace to which she moves. Her torso convulses. She stomps and jerks repetitively. She disappears into the black void behind her.

Bory’s creation is revealed. Two parallel platforms – one a few inches from the floor, movable – pervaded by almost 6000 taut strings. They create a cube, through which Ito moves. The structure has microphones embedded in it, so it is both a set and an instrument. She is confined, a puppet moving mechanically. She has the grace of a panther moving through the lush rainforest. She stomps and thrashes around, tilting and shifting the platform. She floats mid-air. She falls. She weaves swaths of fabric through the strings.

The lighting is monochromatic and creates a powerful effect, slices of light part the space; high blocks go on and off, responding to Ito’s pounding steps through them. Together with the music they create a mesmerising effect. Used to reveal, obscure or compliment Ito’s movement.

Last year, again under the umbrella of the LIMF, Bory presented his portrait of flamenco dancer Stephanie Fuster at the Barbican with“Qu’est-ce que tu deviens?”; this year he seeks to portray something of the life of Ito.  Plexus in Latin used to mean intertwining and later, in anatomy, it came to mean the network of nerves or blood vessels. But, despite his intention to create “a study of the innermost marks her dance has carved in her living body”, the performance appeals mostly as a spectacle. It fails to absorb the spectator emotionally nor does it provide any insight into Ito’s inner workings. That does not make it though, any less of a magnificent work of scenography and dancing artistry.

  • Conception, Scenography and Direction by Aurélien Bory
  • Choreography: Kaori Ito
  • Music: Joan Cambon
  • Lighting design: Arno Veyrat
  • Performed by Kaori Ito
  • Sadler’s Wells, London
  • 22nd & 23rd January 2015
  • Time: 19:30
  • Review by Katerina Yannouli
  • 23 January 2015

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