Joli Vyann: Imbalance

Reviewer's Rating

Imbalance explores the ways in which our lives are interconnected and the moments when we lose touch with one another. Joli Vyann presents a vibrant, lyrical inspection of the impact of technology on our lives, through the ways in which it both brings us together and drives us apart. Through a fusion of dance, circus and acrobatics this performance makes the intangible presence of the World Wide Web in our daily routines visible.

The bold choreography of Jonathan Lunn, performed with feeling and dedication by Oliva Quayle and Jan Patzke (Joli Vyann), is breath-taking. This is a show which sets out to make dance legible through its meditation on contemporary themes. The performance is accompanied by a chorus of familiar sounds; the supermarket check-out counter, twitter and even a cold-caller. The soundtrack for Imbalance is immediately recognisable as the white noise which follows everyday life, and yet it is disconcerting to witness the way in which our movements may be perceived as dictated by these sounds.

Through its deliberate use of common sounds and objects – a laptop, a mobile phone – Imbalance re-presents our lives to us, and the effect is unsettling. In the opening scene the performers are lit only by the faint blue light of their laptop screens. Their gestures and movements are only visible when they intersect with this light. Emerging from the darkness the fluidity of their dancing is fractured. This lighting design, reproduced in the shifting, interlocking rectangles of light which illuminate the stage, offers a telling counterpoint to the scenes in which the couple rely on each other to achieve their daring acrobatic routines. This contrast, between the control and coherence of the choreography and the disconnection and physical distance of their sedentary positions in front of computer screens, expresses the question at the heart of Imbalance; to what extent has technological contact replaced our physical engagement with other people?

The performance given by Joli Vyann is a passionate fusion of precision and strength, and a touching, theatrical portrayal of a couple’s life together. Imbalance presents courageous acrobatic feats, and intricate, self-assured dance routines together with an impudent twist which mocks the very behaviour they mimic. The choreography and physical performance of Imbalance is spectacular.

The notion that the give and take of physical theatre mirrors the chaotic rush and pressure of a daily routine organized through a dozen technological screens is persuasive. The title’s suggestion that our modern lives may be off balance is charmingly executed. At times, however, the volume of the demands made by this technological soundtrack and the confusion of the ever-changing lighting threatens to overwhelm the clarity of the choreography.

Imbalance is an astounding visual performance, with a thought-provoking undercurrent which leads the audience on a riotous journey through the ups and downs of relationships and encourages you to reassess the balance between technology and personal contact in your own life.