Compagnie 111 / Aurelien Bory / Kaori Ito
part of London International Mime Festival
London, Sadler’s Wells
22 January 2015
The dancer Kaori Ito has performed with many contemporary choreographers in Europe including James Thierrée and Alain Platel, but she can have had few such unusual performing experiences as she does here in Plexus, a one-hour solo created for her by director Aurélien Bory. The stage is dominated by a forest of thousands of cords hanging from a structure up near the roof to a broad platform on which she performs. Through these she negotiates paths, swings, and ultimately floats. Plexus is the term for a complex of nerves within the body: here Bory’s stated intention is to reflect on how Ito’s different experiences as a dancer have shaped her.
Ito remains a focussed and intense presence throughout. It’s not simply that she is trapped in the space, she never looks like a victim, rather the queen of her domain. She does shake and vibrate the strings as if in anger, but she also leans against the cords as if they are a wall which supports her, or plays them as if they are the strings of an instrument. She wraps a coil of fabric around them as if claiming a particular space. The lower platform can move and she can swing it from side to side. Her vigorous stomping on the platform is integral to the sound world conjured by Stéphane Ley. Her persona remains fierce, powerful and feminine.
The cords are lit by Arno Veyrat to produce ravishing effects. Very fine slices of golden light sometimes intersect and cross and pick out patterns like shimmering TV interference. At one point they are lit in blocks in responding to Ito’s pounding steps through them. Later Ito sheds her clothes and carves paths through them, lit only by a shaft of light from one side which just outlines her hands or her body. She could have been Eve exploring the jungle creepers of the Garden of Eden, stretching a huge dark shadow behind her. In another section, once she sets the platform swaying from side to side and hurling herself against the cords, we could be on a boat about to be shipwrecked in a storm with the cords forming the lashing rain.
In the last section after a fabric banner falls away, suddenly we find Ito floating up near the ceiling. She slowly floats part way down, climbs back up and falls again. The light points up a brilliant glittering outline around her black-clad form. Up there she looks utterly relaxed and serene, turning herself through different poses, casting star-shaped shadows on the floor. The effect is utterly magical. Gravity is banished. Eventually Ito returns to the ground and dons a dazzling metallic gown to stomp in some kind of triumph before finally disappearing completely.
Plexus is a short piece at just fractionally under an hour. It makes its point and is not overextended. This performance was sold out and was enthusiastically received. It’s a very striking and unusual piece with moments of real theatrical magic. Its methods are so specific that it’s hard to imagine what Aurélien Bory might create next, but it should be intriguing.