Andante: ‘walking speed, moderately slow’.
The room smells sweet as we take our seats.
From behind a curved backdrop, a performer creeps out towards the safety of the white dance floor. With each slow, light step his trainers trigger sparks and cracks from the sea of ‘snaps’ across the stage floor. As the others emerge, a chorus of cap-gun bangs explodes. Moving delicately, they’re all desperate to be quiet, but it’s aggressively impossible.
Four performers - two male (Moreno Solinas and Igor Urzelai), two female (Giorgia Nardin and Eleanor Sikorski) - all with uniform turquoise lightweight ‘activewear’ hoodies, and legs popping out beneath them. It is only when the lights change that we realise they are entirely naked beneath.
First walking, the group pace and circle until they reach a pack-rhythm. Like with the explosions, the dance is making the stomping soundtrack that they move to. Rather than feeling deadpan or droll, the performers’ lack of expression allows us to experience them as one, to focus on the routine, to engage with the rhythms their feet make and the shapes of their patterns.
Abruptly, the performers clear the stage and we are left in darkness. Returning silently, a huge cloth bag is slowly filled with smoke, taking several minutes the tension grows. The release is beautiful, thrust upwards in a crisp white cloud which immediately spreads. It rushes towards us in the audience; we cough as Alessandro Gualtieri’s fragrance hits the back of our throats. Alberto Ruiz Soler’s thumping industrial noise kicks in - at times the bass is overwhelming, guttural and visceral. The storm is physical.
I can’t place it. Something about the scent and the low-level bass unsettles me throughout. It’s a choreography of scenography - smoke, lights, sound, smell – perhaps more than the physical movement itself. Clearly inspired by walking, the dance language is simple, universal perhaps, but still rigorously precise.
Tricks of perception define the experience in the smoke. Seth Rook Williams’ lights dance from above, creating shadow and silhouettes as the haze and performers swirl. Vagueness follows definition follows uncertainty. Escape follows futility. Visibility falls but routine remains: rhythmic footsteps against industrial noise. Who is where? Are we lost? The performers spiral in increasingly fragmented unison as the smoke thickens, deepens, darkens, lightens, swallows them up. They find each-other, unite, and slip away on repeat. A hip folk dance at the end of the world - just keep dancing while the apocalypse engulfs us. We’re never sure when or how the performers leave – falling out of view, eaten, lost, given up, given in. Humans are but powerless to these forces. Sat quietly in the white, I feel somewhere between relieved, relaxed and deeply, ominously unsettled.
The storm calms, having claimed its victims. Something rabid, sweaty, excremental, rotten – decomposing?
Without opportunity for curtain call or clapping, undistracted audience members remain transfixed in the space long after.
My memory of the detail of the show seems so hazy, like the combination of comfortable repetition and literal haze have fogged my brain. Igor and Moreno are experience-makers: they’ve created an opportunity for the audience to slow down, to be lulled, not just to watch but to become part of the event.
Disclosure: I was a co-commissioning partner for Andante (and previous work) in my former role as Arts Producer at Cambridge Junction. I have been paid a fee by Igor and Morenoto write a response to the show.