Igor Urzelai and Moreno Solinas enjoy a unique distinction. They are the only duo ever to have been jointly nominated in an individual performance category for a UK National Dance Award; an achievement gained for this work, in 2015. It is easy to see why they were so inseparable since this is something more than just a long duet.
The clue is in the title. Although there is a small section of partnered dance towards the end, this is about conjoined peculiarity; about the idiosyncratic characteristics and mannerisms of an individual but portrayed through the union of two. Igor and Moreno are unrelated (Urzelai is from San Sebastian in the Basque Country and Solinas hails from Sardinia) but they have essayed a dance performance that appears to be governed by the close emotional ties that might arise in twin siblings brought up in close confinement.
The base language that they have evolved consists of a simple bounce. They jump, mostly simultaneously, thousands of times (perhaps, even tens of thousands of times). They undress while bouncing; they pour – and consume – drinks while bouncing; they bounce into the audience. Three large white screens (designed by KASPERSOPHIE) are staggered diagonally in their positioning on stage allowing the pair to take turns in bouncing out of sight to retrieve an extra tee-shirt or other item. I’d like to think that they each took the opportunity to stop bouncing, while thus unseen, but somehow that thought undermines the essential compulsion that underpins the work.
It began in a very different vein. The pair walked to centre stage and from their stationary positions, sang – a cappella – a seventeenth-century Sardinian song, which so far as I can judge, was something about the joy of the land. The only other movement came from their neck muscles as the pair looked around the audience, while singing. Their stillness was to be in striking contrast with the perpetual upward propulsion to come but it also introduced the conspicuous consonance of their uncanny knack for harmonisation.
Despite the structured emphasis on synchrony, there were embedded references to individuality. They jumped differently: Igor’s propulsion came largely from the forefoot, landing and taking off from the toes and metatarsals; and whilst Moreno also tended to land on the front of his foot, he would bring his heel down to give added impetus to the take-off. There was a more humorous insight to their separate personalities in the undressing sequence: Igor pulled his clothes off in any manner and let them lay wherever they fell, whereas Moreno painstakingly folded each item into a neat square and arranged the clothing in a convenient pile (all while bouncing, every second – try it at home)! One feels that it gave an accurate image as to the respective state of their bedroom/s and wardrobe/s.
There was a great deal of engaging humour in the early part of this work. Having brought on stage a chunky bottle of the London Spirit, Bold – instantly recognisable by its trademark picture of a Victorian circus strongman on the label – and carefully opened, poured and drank a shot each – again while bouncing – they then returned with an armful of bottles and twin towers of stacked plastic “shot-glasses” to pass around the audience. I can’t speak for others, but the sour cherry and vanilla-infused spirit was a nice – and warming – addendum to the evening!
The first half-hour of Idiot-Syncrasy was easily of five-star quality in its heady combination of innovative and diverse material, engaging performance and gentle humour, mixed in a cocktail of playful and serious moods; but – although always watchable – it began to drift into too much more of the same as the work progressed; and it seemed as if all the big ideas were front-loaded. The scope for improvisation around the particular reference points in the overall structure meant that the show exceeded it’s intended duration of an hour by many minutes and I would suggest that this was without enhancement.
Nonetheless, Igor and Moreno clearly deserved that unique distinction of the joint NDA nomination, back in 2015, and I was very glad to catch this revival. They are no idiots (The “Idiot” reference in the title is a self-effacing reference to their joint desire to change the world with a dance performance); in fact, they share a rare ability to engage with their audience, both mutually and as individuals. They could be a softer contemporary dance equivalent to the great comedy double acts of our times, stronger together because of the union of their differences.