As part of our Moves411 dance reviews in collaboration with Beatfreeks, Paige Jackson reviewed Joli Vyann’s Imbalance on Wednesday 26 April, 8pm. 

 

“Nowadays everything is so fast… [we] wanted to explore … what that is doing to our personal relationships…” Olivia Quayle

 

A dim yellow wash gently illuminates a sparse set.

DSL: 1 rectangular table, 2 chairs, two laptops and 1 phone.

The lights fade out; silence.

More silence and anticipation.

FLASH.

 

A laptop screen shines brightly over one performer, who is hunched, typing speedily.

A few seconds later a second performer is illuminated by their mobile phone screen.

Both are fiercely fixated on their virtual devices switching from video calls, to YouTube vids and

SMS, but barely any social interaction between each other.

 

As the title suggest, throughout the 60-minute piece we witness the contemporary imbalance

between technological engagement and maintaining real life relations. It is a constant juggle if

not a battle to balance the scales and find a healthy happy medium between the two. It is only

later on in the piece that we see the two performers moving towards a less tenuous and strained

relationship.

 

Just as we experience the ups and downs of the performers’ relationship, the piece is driven by

a compilation of tracks which within themselves are a mashup of regular scores, background

sound and technological soundbites; this went from what resembled a humble and sombre

middle eastern hymn-like score to a game boy-esque level of energy. This may sound harshly

juxtaposing, however, it flowed with ease just as the performers did on the stage.

 

The hand to hand partner acrobatics fused with contemporary dance was a refreshing spin on

a more traditional circus or acrobatic performances. It was clear that the performers themselves

were highly skilled and well rehearsed, in addition to being able to deliver a high level of

emotional content through a clever composition of contact partner work, fluid counterbalance

and animated gestures. I felt that both performers delivered their roles with great strength and

commitment and the rapport between the two was very honest.

 

I would have liked to have seen more exploration into one of the sections of the piece, which

delved into the insidious and darker side of the virtual world – we’re talking cyberbullying and

abuse. The audience were suddenly drowned in an audio of children relaying comments and

hashtags directed at them: ‘Black pig’, ‘#YouAreFat, #WhyAreYouStillAlive – to recite just a few.

I also felt that the middle section of the piece could have picked up the pace sooner, it did seem

to drag on and I must admit at moments I found myself drifting away and then having to

consciously remind myself to snap back to the performance. Ironically the overall composition of

the piece came across as imbalanced because of this.

 

That being said I was astonished and mesmerised by the performers’ impeccable performance –

absolutely captivated, to say the least! There were moments of absolute silence and fixation as

they carefully delivered lifts and transitioned from precarious (sometimes contorted) tricks with

intense power, strength and focus.

 

This piece executes such a simple idea in a full 60 minutes, bouncing from stress, humour,

frustration, and contentedness. I would definitely recommend anybody to see this performance

as it comments on a universal experience that we are yet to discover the full ramifications of and

figure out. Will we forever be in imbalance?

 

ABOUT PAIGE / I’m an eccentric multi-faceted artist who graduated from London Contemporary Dance School in 2014. I love to read, write poetry, paint and watch indie films; music is my jam too. This season I have teamed up with Beatfreeks and DanceXchange to bring to you some exclusive dance reviews.