All Genius All Idiot by young Swedish dance and circus company Svalbard is refreshingly and amazingly experimental, as it innovatively blends contemporary circus with dance, theatre and physical comedy. Its mise-en-scène of ever-changing rhythm, its sensitive use of symbolic props and hauntingly beautiful live sound-track are all truly original, enabling an active, astounded and intense audience participation on both a physical and intellectual level. With Chinese pole, aerial rope, hand balance and acrobatics, the skills of the acrobats is just enthralling and their energy contagious. Their performance also asks much-needed questions as regards human behaviour and gender politics.
Starting with a simple folk song played by a guitarist wearing deer horns and platform shoes, the acrobats use extreme circus artistry in increasingly quirky and outrageous situations: a duo-dance together tender and cruel; a performer experiencing convulsive madness to the point of speaking an unknown language; another poetically dancing to the genuine sounds of water and absorbing its rhythm and texture into his body sensations. Progressively however, the world seems to turn mad and surreal, inhabited by curious animals and dismembered puppets in a decadent decor and music pumping from a supermarket trolley. The power and generosity of the deer, together man and woman, will however provide relief in the sexiest and fun-loving pen-ultimate climax.
“Svalbard”, appropriately, is the northernmost settlement in the world, as there is no doubt the company wishes us to experience an altogether different world, a world of precious water and rituals, where everybody finally finds his/her place amidst others.