Three cowboys and an inflatable set: ‘The Host’ (Andros Zins-Browne)

There were these three cowboys, and they were trying to stay on their feet and dance on these giant inflatable cushions, as if they were riding on a mechanical bull. Sometimes the summary of a performance – those few lines you tell your friends afterwards – can be very good, whereas the performance itself might have disappointed you. Take The Host, for instance, by Andros Zins-Browne, a New Yorker who studied at PARTS and danced with Jonathan Burrows and Mette Ingvartsen.

It starts out nice and rather mysteriously. Slowly the lights go up on that dark stage (the audience is sitting on the four sides of it) and you hear a strange sound that gets louder and louder. It turns out to be the noise those yellow ventilators make, needed to inflate that gigantic set. And then those three cowboy enter on stage. Slowly and cautiously they investigate that weird and bubbly landscape. How on earth will they manage to stay on their feet?

What is the status of the individual when his environment can no longer be conquered and controlled, when the individual is weak in comparison to the power of nature? That’s the question that lies at the core of Zins-Browne’s performance. And therefore he turned to cowboys for The Host: those archetypical heroes, and prime examples of Men who are always winning that fight against Land.

The Host is one of those performances that you look at smilingly, really wanting those performers to succeed. But from the moment that gigantic set is inflated and you admire the view, you immediately wonder if they will be able to keep it an interesting performance. And that’s where Zins-Browne unfortunately fails.

Sure, it’s funny when they start line dancing, as cowboys do, and it gets really funny in the end when that last gigantic cushion starts tossing them around as mechanical bulls do. But still, they never succeed in surpassing the ‘pitch’ – to use that film term – of this performance: three guys on a gigantic inflatable set. In that sense Zins-Browne goes down in the same way his cowboys do:  it’s Man losing that fight against Nature. In his case: his set.

More info and tour schedule here. You’ll find a video trailer here.

 

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