Breakin’ Convention Presents gave us the opportunity to watch the highly acclaimed dancer and choreographer Yaman Okur in a collaboration with musician Jean-Philippe Collard-Neven – 1mm Au Dessus Du Sol (1mm Above the Ground). Well known for his unusual use of props, Okur has found extraordinary ways to utilise the humble laundry basket. There was a great deal of very entertaining interaction between pianist and dancer, with both coming across as equal stage presences. Collard-Neven was just as interesting when he was tapping out a rhythm with his hands as when his fingers flew over the keyboard of his on-stage piano.
Okur’s style of movement is highly distinctive – as if locking and popping have had the jerkiness removed and replaced with something altogether more silky. His face is so expressive that even a cough from the audience provoked a reaction in his eyes that prompted laughter. As he added more laundry baskets into the routine, so his energy levels increased. A sloped wall at the rear of the stage provided an area which saw Okur throwing himself at it, rolling down it, precariously scaling it, in a delicate balancing act. Some of his rather eloquent spins, whether on his feet or on his back, were spontaneously applauded. The sheer strength and stamina to sustain a solo for an hour was enough to make one sit in awe, but it was his charisma that held our attention at every moment. What a performer! Even sitting still on a lone chair, with his hands curling around his face, was enthralling.
The on-going physical banter between the two performers was enjoyable but even though each of them was working hard, it was not quite clear what kind of connection they had or indeed what was the purpose of using as many as seven laundry baskets at one stage. Regardless of the first rate dancing and music, by the end there was a sense of bafflement at the content.