After the orgasm the dance?

Mette Ingvartsen presents 'To Come' at the Klapstuk Festival in Leuven

De Morgen 2 Nov 2005English

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Contextual note
This review was first published in Dutch in the Flemish newspaper De Morgen on 2 November 2005, and translated into English by Tom Hannes with the support of Great Investment.

Or was it the other way around? Anyway, the transformation of lust, desire and imagination in theatre is a central theme in To Come, a production of the promising Danish-Brussels choreographer Mette Ingvartsen. Once again, her propositions are meticulous and her design is explicitly conceptual, though elaborated with humour, at the same time inviting and ambiguous.

It all begins with a sustained foreplay. On stage, five figures are standing and lying in a bizarre configuration of lustful poses connecting body apertures. But as the five figures are head to foot wrapped in blue suits, the overall view is rather abstract. The rigidly choreographed transitions from posture to posture following this opening scene, are rhythmical and machinelike. And though all of it indeed is somehow reminiscent of group sex, at the same time the association is suspended.

The actions are practically silent, the people that execute them disappear behind a layer of blue cloth. As if dealing with blue-screen technology, Ingvartsen erases a piece of reality that later on could be filled in with a computer. The blue suits stand for imagination, but what imagination? Once desire and sexual imagination are that strongly abstracted and conceptualized, theatrical imagination seems suspended in mid-air as well.

In the second part, the blue screen serves as a backdrop. The five, now dressed casually and colourfully, line up as if in a choir. Sighing, panting and groaning they voice a pre-programmed orgasm, rhythmically navigating from climax to climax. This time, theatricality is all over the place. Moreover, the performers have to cope with the many gazes and fantasies of the audience.

Then stirring swing music blasts from the loudspeakers, and like five jive-ass-motherfuckers the performers get into Lindy Hop. This energetic swing dance not only offers an explicit link with traditional sex stereotyping, in theatre it sheds a light on the phrase ‘the joy of dancing’ - which proves contagious and carries To Come, beyond its conceptual entry, into the joy of watching. After the orgasm the dance?