Review: HIGH STAKES – Erk Aschengreen

HIGH STAKES – Erk Aschengreen – Berlingske Tidende 18/1/02

A fair share of both prizes and blanks in Dansecenens Improvisations
lottery. To use improvisation, not just as a working process and preparation for a dance piece but also at that very moment a dancer stands on stage is to play high stakes. This is clearly evident in the immensely well-organized improvisation festival Meet the Parents that Dansecenen is presenting this week. A festival that focuses on the concept of improvisation, which has played such an important role in contemporary dance over the last 50 years.

In the afternoon events, presented by dance researcher, Karen Vedel and
Berlingske Tidendes Vibeke Wern who interviews the artists, we get an
insight into the method. In the evening we see how and if it functions.

The Italian, Alexander Certini who opened the evening’s first performance was proof that some evenings are more successful than others. We saw him on one of the others. Pierre Dørge was a worthy musical opponent. Inventive and fun on all types of strange instruments. On occasion they met rhythmically and Certini captured the magic of the space, but mostly the musical accompaniment was too strong. The dancer could not keep the form, falling back on talking nonsense into the microphone about his nose. It was not very funny even though the patient audience willing clutched at any straw.

David Zambrano from Venezuela also had a brilliant accompanist in Wilbert de Joode, who played, danced and conjured with his double bass. The dancer played back with just as much energy, switching from a small Chaplin-like figure, clowning around, to the macho Spaniard.

Katie Duck from the USA followed after the break, giving a very varied and accomplished solo performance. If it was completely improvised, she
certainly made it work in an extraordinarily elegant way. She had an amusing rapport with the audience and some wonderfully grand dance scenes where she took in the whole space accompanied by Bach or Spanish folk songs. It was a joy to see her move.

Katie Duck created an atmosphere; she gave the audience something. Whilst with other improvisational artists one wonders every once in a while if their own obsession with the actual process sometimes obscures the fact that the reason for standing in public, on stage, is first and foremost about sending something to the audience. This evening the improvisation roundabout turns again with new artists and the chance of a prize. Take a shot