One of a trio of pieces that make up the Czech dance showcase at this year’s fringe, One Step Before the Fall uses a contemporary style to explore the life of Muhammad Ali.
Short of a recording of the man himself, distressingly riddled with Parkinson’s and barely coherent, played at the beginning of the performance, this theme is not particularly clear; it could be documenting the struggles faced by any boxer, anywhere. However, it does explore this wider idea fairly successfully.
Markéta Vacovská’s enviable muscle tone, physicality and emotional commitment to the role make her a believable fighter as she darts, jabs and rolls her way around the stage. It was particularly interesting to see her transform the empty space into a boxing ring, erecting poles and wires to form ropes. The use of these as an aide to the movement in the piece added another dimension to the performance and the swooping dive towards the audience was a moment of high drama.
The action on stage was complemented superbly by Lenka Dusilová, the Czech Grammy award winner, who sat to the side, providing a micro performance of her own. She used her own haunting vocals, a guitar, a bass and a computer to loop, layer and manipulate sounds into an intriguing and beguiling soundtrack.
This is a truly interesting piece of work. It tackles an unusual subject in an unusual way and is unlike anything else I have seen before. It has its faults, for instance there are certain sequences where you lose the plot for a while, but it is refreshing to see people attempting something a little bit different.
The company should be complimented on an unusual, well executed and truly collaborative performance. For lovers of contemporary dance, watching One Step Before the Fall will be a rewarding and refreshing experience.