DanceXchange is particularly pleased to be presenting this week’s performance of ANECKXANDER at The Patrick Centre. The quirky and unusual show was selected as one of the best performances by the Jury of the prestigious ’16 by Het Theaterfestival.
The Jury’s Report makes the case for this superb show.
Circus – what’s in a name? ‘Pioneering’ is the most suitable label for this production. It not only builds unprecedented bridges between dance, performance and circus, but above all is an ode to the beauty of the imperfect body. The naked body. Nudity may be a daily occurrence in the performing arts, but in circus it is fairly uncommon. Which is in fact odd, because what else is circus other than the physical body coming up against its own limits and again and again trying to exceed them?
What Vantournhout does in his solo is to magnify these physical limits in his own body. He has measured them: his neck is too long and his legs and arms too short in relation to his torso. And so on stage he tries out increasing numbers of prostheses: first a Rubens ruff, then platform shoes, and in the end even boxing gloves. While wearing them he performs the same acrobatics over and over again, but increasing the difficulty for himself each time. Unlike most circus acts, this is not a virtuoso feat of strength to overcome gravity, but a surrender to failure and exhausting physical effort.
ANECKXANDER might very easily have become an arty affair, but Vantournhout is too much of an entertainer for that. His playful humour puts things into perspective, his tricks mislead our expectations, and he maintains constant eye contact with the audience. This is because he would like to be liked, as everyone does. Because he is imperfect, as everyone is. Again and again he smacks his body painfully onto the canvas following a high swing. It’s like flying with clipped wings. Icarus meets Sisyphus.
You rarely see young work that has such an awareness of its own codes and terms.
Vantournhout combines the accomplishments of the circus with contemporary dance and shifts the boundaries in the Flemish circus world. For this purpose he can rely on two separate forms of training, both at the ESAC circus college and the P.A.R.T.S. dance course, and not least on the clever dramaturgy by Bauke Lievens. At the same time, ANECKXANDER remains an extremely intelligible performance, a moving personal and universal portrait. Vantournhout is an acrobat, a contortionist, a freak and a clown. But above all a human being. He embraces imperfection, which is both touching and disturbing, in a sober but awe-inspiring performance that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
ANECKXANDER is on Friday 7 October. To see this amazing show visit here for tickets.