A tightly curled body rolls slowly on to stage, partially obscured by a sea of smoke. Slowly the foetal form unfurls a searching arm and extended leg to reveal the figure of Olga Kosterina; you have just witnessed the birth of an individual and the beginning of their dilemma. Using a combination of ballet and contemporary styles, physical theatre, and circus skills, Kosterina explores the dichotomy of good and evil, and the struggle that all individuals face choosing between them.
The intensity and focus of this performer is mind-boggling, every movement she makes is charged with emotion and intent. So much so, in fact, that she could have spent fifteen minutes opening a jar of jam and I can guarantee it would still have been fascinating to watch.
The way this attention is used to create contrasts between sequences is one of the most effective elements of this piece. As a performer and choreographer Kosterina has the confidence and experience to understand the power of stillness in dance; to comprehend the significance and power the smallest movement can have when performed well. These moments are balanced perfectly with the more frantic and explosive segments to ensure she carries the audience with her and makes them a part of the journey.
There is no set to speak of and the tech is simple – using a subtle play of shadows and light to enhance the good/evil, black and white aesthetic. In fact, there is nothing in this production to hide behind. Every decision, from the nude coloured leotard to the few props (including some remarkably hypnotic, curved batons) is there to compliment the choreography and draw attention to the movements themselves.
One outstanding decision, though, was the music. Like the choreography itself, the music draws on many different influences, managing to weave them together seamlessly. The marriage of movement and music is sublime, and makes for a fantastically emotive experience.
I hesitate to pin the term ‘contemporary’ on such a hybrid performance, but it is the closest term we have to describe such choreography. As contemporary performances go, this is one of the best I have seen and Olga Kosterina should be complimented on her beautiful choreography, focussed performance and overall thought provoking work.