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Crowd review: Tiny episodes captured in immaculate, slow-motion dance

Dublin Theatre Festival 2022: The choreographer Gisele Vienne skilfully splinters her heaving mass of bodies into individual characters


O’Reilly Theatre

It’s the continuing aftermath of a rave; a night-time muddy field littered with dented empty cans and other rubbish, as well as abandoned clothing. Disoriented bodies, still in party gear, lurch separately, in slow motion, into a new world, light and dark, sacred and profane. Some partygoers flaunt colour — lemon, neon green, even a flash of scarlet. The rest drift by in regulation jeans and hoodies, all melding into this clubland of escape, of pulsating sound and angular abrupt movement to Peter Rehberg’s immersive playlist His ambient electronic and techno music edit includes the artists Underground Resistance, Global Communication Jeff Mills and Rehberg himself.

The bodies of Gisèle Vienne’s company of 15 diverse and remarkable dancers are littered with private histories, secret needs and desires, a lust for human connection and love

The Franco-Austrian choreographer Gisèle Vienne skilfully splinters her heaving mass into individual characters. The bodies of her company of 15 diverse and remarkable dancers are littered, too, with private histories, secret needs and desires, a lust for human connection and love. They each wear identifiable gestures and moves, so we can track these fragments of human emotions, aggressive and sensual, debauched and melancholy, spilling over in this scene of throbbing euphoria. We observe the narcissistic, sexy sun goddess, her limbs extended in confident moves, an edgy outsider, face obscured, his yearning to be embraced, a young woman hunched and crumpled, too bruised to rise and follow the pulsating rhythm.

Tiny episodes emerge: slow flirting and courting with sex or conflict, hesitant foreplay, ambiguous kisses, violent outbursts, tender shouldering of a distressed friend, all captured in the dancers’ immaculate execution of slow-motion dance. And, in Patrick Riou’s outstanding cinematic lighting design, Vienne the dance-maker turns film-maker, directing the zooms and fades, exposing and freeze-framing the dancers. They are floodlit, spotlit, in portrait or caught like newsreel action shots, energetically soaring or falling like stars before unfurling themselves to face a rising sun.

Ran at the O’Reilly Theatre, Belvedere College, Dublin 1, as part of Dublin Theatre Festival