Scholar Laura Marks described the haptic experience as brushing as near as possible to verbalizing a sensory experience in its fullest, most accurate sense. To completely capture a feeling in words would be impossible. This is how I feel when trying to write this review of the fascinating production, Fuerzabruta.
I entered trying to find a storyline within the acrobatic, emotionally charged dance – the running man who never moves forward as a representation of humanity fighting against inevitability or the playful fairies wondrous sense of discovery. However, I soon realized I had to let go of the ambition to try to ‘make sense’ of Fuerzabruta. It is not about a defined storyline but instead the emotions and sensations it invokes in the audience. I do not want to describe all the incredible and mystifying acts – part of the enjoyment is the sense of wonder, surprise and discovery as new feats are presented and new emotions evoked.
The people around me literally spoke out loud their incredibility at how certain moves were performed or gasped in shock and sympathy at the physical commitment of the performers. The haptic looks at more than just the inability to capture the physical in words, but also looks to how art has the ability to transfer sensations into our watching bodies, even though we are not truly experiencing them. That is what Fuerzabruta did so wonderfully. I could feel the air rushing through my hair and the stomach clenching fear as the performers swung wildly in the air, screaming out in rage. I wanted to dance along with them and felt the explosions of joy across the room, the excitement of the crowd contagious.
What is so incredible about Fuerzabruta that not many other productions capture is the combined work of man and material, of actors and crew. The ropes holding up the performers are always clearly visible – the human ingenuity and physical skill in lifting these performers so that they can perform their ballet is front and center, never hidden for the sake of illusion. The set, which seemed to be beautifully cobbled together from a garage sale, exposed the materiality of this world and thus our own. Yet as much as the materiality and ‘behind-the-scenes’ components were shown, through staging, lighting and music they were shown when and how the production wanted them to be.
A change in lighting could reveal a new component to the current set, show how a previous trick worked or set the stage for a new exploration to begin. The music and strobe lights performed along with the acrobats in bring the emotions of the piece coursing through the viewers’ body.
The show may not have a deeper meaning or offer a new perspective to the art world: but it is the purest joy and fun I’ve had at a show in a long time. Fuerzabruta is not just theatre it’s an experience. An experience everyone should have.