DANCE: Is Everything Connected?
Review by DANA OSBORN
Two dancers, a man and a woman, move on stage. Sometimes only one is visible, but the other is always present. They move between solitude and unison. It is sometimes unclear which limbs belong to who, as the two, entangled, roll across the stage.
In the dance work, Is Everything Connected? the audience is asked to contemplate the relations between different things. The way night is defined in opposition to day, how the sea is marked out by its distance from land, and by what means people are demarcated as different to each other, always in relation.
But for the performers Andres Martinez and Kemelo Sehlapelo, these connections are also more practical. Its point of departure is the climate crisis and how marginalised groups who have contributed the least to climate change will suffer the most from the pollution of the wealthy. We live in a world where our actions can ripple out and affect those very distant from us.
When moving alone, the dances depict the problems of the self on stage. When together, the dancers on stage collide, moving not in unison but complimentarily and interdependently, connected like atoms in a field of tension. Two different parts of one whole. Only recognisable as people when the spotlight casts the shape of a human on the back wall.
The production claims to cover various topics, including climate change, marginality, adulthood, and identity. A bold claim, considering that this dance has almost no dialogue. Does it succeed in clearly portraying all of these themes? I’m not sure, but the answer may vary from viewer to viewer. One message was incredibly clear: humans are irrevocably connected, sometimes violently, and other times gently.
The two dancers triumph not because of their technique but because of their ability to convey abstract internal states through movement. The simplicity of this set, which comprises solely of scattered trash, allows the emotion portrayed by the two dancers to shine through. The choreography is understated; at times, the dancers’ movements seem unconscious, executed by no choice of their own.
The entanglement of the two becomes clear as a man dances across the stage, seemingly controlled by some celestial force; the woman sits on the side watching. Over the instrumental, play the words of philosopher Alan Watts: “If you awaken from this illusion and understand that black implies white, self implies other; life implies death.”
Is Everything Connected? is playing until the 2 July.