Profundis

Profundis choreographed by Israeli-born Roy Assaf, is amusingly and slickly performed by the National Dance Company Wales but is more of a ‘five-finger exercise’ for dance students; a mind-game with much mime and posing with very little dance.

Has an uneven quality, the wit unsuccessfully balanced by the more enigmatic sections.

The central part of the show purports to answer a voice-over’s question: ‘What do you think music is all about?’ and by extension dance or any art form. The dancers call out suggestions from a variety of concrete things to abstractions: e.g. ‘a penguin’, ‘waves’, ‘a knife’, ‘pain’, ‘yearning’, ‘retreating from a strange point of view’ or what it is not: e.g. ‘it is not about my country’ and, in each case, the dancers mime what they have said in a pose or action. It is charming and amusing but no more so than a child’s game.

Before this playful word game begins, a girl in yellow ruched bathing suit lies, spotlit front of stage, seductively turning like a model in a photo-shoot, her hand at one point between her thighs. Is the choreographer intending us to interpret this girl’s movements as sexual? Five men in black Victorian bathing suits enter and at one point give Nazi salutes. There is no doubt what these gestures mean but how the two sections are relevant to the word-game which follows is impossible to guess at this stage.

Later, two men wrestle to beautifully intimate choreography which ends in violence. The same moves are repeated but end in a kiss, raising the question of how we interpret actions. This section has a depth and emotion that is profound in a way that the rest of the show is not and though different in mood and approach, complements the Q and A word-play.

The final voice-over question is: ‘What idea is it (music) trying to tell you?’ The answer is that it does not mean anything, it just is. A nod to Gertrude Stein’s ‘A rose is a rose is a rose’ maybe but an over-knowing get-out.

Overall the show has an uneven quality, the wit unsuccessfully balanced by the more enigmatic sections. Some people will love it, others will be tempted to walk out.

Reviews by Stephanie Green

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

NDCWales will be performing Roy Assaf's playful, vibrant and provocative Profundis at the British Council Showcase. Assaf's Profundis challenges us to ask questions about what things are and what they are not in this whimsical wordplay, which features a haunting soundtrack. 'A tapestry of exquisitely detailed gestures adorned with sparkling stories' (Buzz Magazine).

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