Day 18: Dominique Roodthooft / Mandafounis & Mazliah

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Almost there, but not quite yet. It could have been the title of both performances I saw yesterday. A strong dance piece by two Forsythe-dancers and an cheerful performance with the air of a biology lesson by Dominique Roodthooft.

Did you know that animals can lie and that dunes can sing? And that sheep are not necessarily any dumber than chimps? Just a few of the things you learn during Dominique Roodthooft ‘s Smatch. She puts her audience at both sides of an intriguing laboratory, with lots of props, goldfish, animal masks and two video-screens.

Roodthooft almost won me over with her strange combination of science, biology, philosophy and rather absurd humour. At it’s best moments it does what a movie like Bill Murray’s comedy Groundhog day accomplishes: make you look at everyday life from a slightly different perspective. But trying to tell the story both in Dutch and in French makes Smatch a bit tedious (even though there’s a reason for it). And unfortunately the performance collapses in the end under the weight of it’s own seriousness. As if they felt the overall absurdness of the piece definitely needed some justification.

Watching P.A.D. is like watching a wrestling-match. But instead of looking up at the ring, you look down on both performers. Ioannis Mandafounis & Fabrice Mazliah have come up with an interesting choreographic study. It’s well thought out, nicely structured and immaculately performed. But still: it’s a study waiting to be brought to the next level.

(photo credit: Constance Neuenschwander)

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