Bounce, bounce, bounce, flip, bounce, bounce, double flip... on and on it goes. A bouncing human body is truly hypnotic to watch, and we get to see plenty of it: fully naked, wrapped in clingfilm, in overalls, even in a spacesuit. Served with an eerie soundscape and atmospheric lighting, some might say that this sci-fi inspired acrobatics act is out of this world.
This sci-fi inspired acrobatics act is out of this world.
Performer Rauli Dahlberg is the trampoline virtuoso of the Finnish contemporary circus troupe Race Horse Company. He has also written and directed the solo performance with the help of choreographer Jarkko Mandelin and sound artist Miro Mantere, whose dreamlike live-looping blends effortlessly into Dahlberg’s body language. Light designers Jere Mönkkönen and Eero Alava have done a great job creating an alien ambiance.
Sci-fi themed circus is not an obvious match, although they share a mutual aspiration for defying gravity. O’DD is Dahlberg’s long-standing dream, fueled by his affection for Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: Space Odyssey. O’DD’s ultra-physical expression takes you on a cinematic journey. Just like Kubrick, Dahlberg’s vision creates a compellingly enigmatic experience where visuals lead the story as the human species seeks its place in the vast universe.
O’DD oozes symbolism from the very first scene, where the naked performer is born bursting through clingfilm. Soon his body becomes a human propeller, exploding into orbit. The latter part takes full advantage of Dahlberg’s mastery of the trampoline, creating an illusion of weightlessness. Eventually the whole set melts into a liquid surface, where the fluidity of motion blends into the surroundings. Minimalistic props give purpose to the nuanced expression as Dahlberg’s body conveys a plethora of emotions. This is not just a story, it’s a manifesto.
Rauli Dahlberg is one of the founding members of Race Horse Company, established in 2008. The troupe has become one of the most internationally touring Finnish performing arts. Their rough-and-ready style is based on strong acrobatic skills, aesthetics of chaos, dark humour and the element of surprise. While O’DD doesn’t include death-defying tricks or wild stunts, it sets out to redefine the boundaries of physical expression and explore how the human body can defy gravity.
At the moment, we can only marvel at the show on video. Luckily the format still allows us to be immersed in the performance and enjoy each movement on screen. Obviously, this would be best watched live, as it has been intended, so hopefully the troupe can soon resume touring. Not even a pandemic can hold talent from bouncing back to the world stage where it belongs. O’DD leaves a lasting desire – to the stars and beyond!