REVIEW: NO MAN IS AN ISLAND / TETRIS (Dance Umbrella 2016 Festival) ★★★★
October 14, 2016  //  By:   //  Opera/Dance, Reviews  //  Comments are off


This double bill of shows is being performed at Artsdepot, which opened in 2004 and has won a number of awards. It is an excellent, comfortable venue with an audience largely comprised of families with young children.

No Man Is An Island is performed by Erik Kaiel (also the choreographer) and Joseph Simon. Two male performers, one slim and light (Joseph Simon) and one heavy and powerful (Erik Kaiel). The show begins with them in the middle of the stage, surrounded by the audience who sit informally on the floor around them.

Simon dances on, crawls around and jumps across (and sometimes onto, ouch!) the prone, inanimate, figure of Kaiel, using him as an Island so that he never needs to touch the surface of the stage.

The background music is just really some rhythmic staccato sounds. Not a fantastic accompaniment but curiously atmospheric.

The two dancers work well together, contorting their bodies and balancing on each other. One dancer contributing his strength, the other his balance and skill. The entire audience looked on enthralled by the skill and strength of the dancers, even the youngest of children.

The second show Tetris is performed by Kim Fischer, Mayke van Kruchten, Joseph Simon and Paulien Truijen. It was more of a spectacular than No Man Is An Island and far funnier . I am not much of a computer gamer so I expect I missed some of the game references but it was amusing none the less.

There were four dancers on stage, two men and two women. The audience for Tetris sat in their more traditional locations, the seats. At first the dancers formed their bodies into various squares and rectangles, both singly and in groups morphing from one to the other as they moved across the stage. Later the dancers moved to the far edge of the stage and one at a time each “layed” a Rubik’s Cube, much as chickens lay eggs. I won’t speculate about where they kept them while they were dancing.

Each of the Rubik’s cubes controlled their hatcher. So that as each cube was screwed and spun the respective hatcher or hatcherette was forced into more highly paced, intricate movements.

As if that were not enough torment for the poor dancers, the cubes were handed over to children in the audience. It was like putting piranhas in charge of a sweetshop. To make matters worse the children were encouraged to go up on the stage where they could more closely get involved in the chaos. Hilarious. Who would have thought that two year olds could be so delightfully sneaky?

The whole audience enjoyed the show. The cast would have earned a standing ovation if toddlers were into that kind of thing. It was a mightily impressive performance.

Erik Kaiel now choreographs and teaches throughout Europe and the World. He is the artistic director of Crosstown Den Haag, a fellow of Danslab and a faculty member of the Artez Dance Academy. In 2010 he won the Dutch national prize for choreographic talent.

Joseph Simon has a degree in dance. He is equally fluent in contemporary movement, ballet and hip hop. Kim Fischer, post 2007 graduation, has worked as a freelance dancer for various choreographers and temporarily moved to London in 2011. Mayke van Kruchten graduated from Amsterdam University of Arts and like Kim has worked as a freelance dancer for various choreographers. In 2013 she was awarded the Outstanding Dancer Award at the sixth CICC. Paulien Truijen earned her degree in Amsterdam where she is now based and has danced for years with Arch 8, and has founded a small dance group called Woest.

If your children have been well behaved since Christmas take them as a treat. If not take the opportunity of a few hours of rest and relaxation and a few good laughs.

Reviewed by Graham Archer
Photo: Erik Korzo