A Thread is a fitting title for Jean Abreu and Elisa Bracket’s collaborative dance piece. To watch it is to bear witness to the gradual unspooling of the human body; to see what it is capable of when it is freed from the confines of routine movement and instead just reacts intrinsically. Abreu’s five dancers don’t walk, they lunge. They don’t stand-up, they unfurl. They reach through rather than towards. It’s quite mesmerising, so much so that I found myself suddenly aware of the tension I carry in my own body and made a conscious effort to relax my shoulders in an attempt to experience some of the fluid ease of the dancers on stage.
Watching it I had absolutely no idea what was going on but it didn’t matter, this is a performance about the body not the mind.
Danced low and heavy, the influences of capoeira are noticeable in A Thread’s choreography. The dancers themselves are costumed like someone in 1996 imagined people would dress in ‘the future’; structured garments in varying shades of grey and silver, vaguely utilitarian and military-like in appearance. They veer between looking like futuristic Japanese warriors and mental patients experiencing a very serene breakdown. Elisa Bracket’s sculptures are used throughout the piece, sometimes with great effect but other times acting as more of a hindrance. The practicality of having to attach ropes to belt clips is jarring in such a fluid piece.
At 75 minutes long, A Thread is a well structured piece that benefits from Oleg Shpudeiko’s varied and innovative soundscape. Watching it I had absolutely no idea what was going on but it didn’t matter, this is a performance about the body not the mind. It made me consider how little we use our bodies in everyday life and all the untapped potential we carry within them. Thread was enjoyable and mildly thought-provoking, but didn’t take my breath away.
Inspired by sculptor Elisa Bracher’s vast installation piece The Endless Still Point, which he saw at the museum of modern art in Rio, Jerwood Award-winning choreographer Jean Abreu has been working with the artist to meld her weighty metal and wire structures with his own contemporary dance theatre ideas of balance and tension within the body and mind. Capturing the essence of Elisa Bracher’s gravity defying sculptures, the five dancers engage with the materials – trolleys, weights, cables, sheets of lead and one huge leaden ball – which become the building stones of the piece, a labyrinth that they create for themselves and then have to navigate. Jean Abreu’s new choreography is a highly physical, geometric performance which juxtaposes abstract notions with myths and stories.