Last year, I was lucky enough to catch Alyona Ageeva’s Physical Theatre PosleSlov perform to a small audience and immediately became a fan. This Russian company tours outside their homeland in order to express the freedoms inherent in art. This year, I’m delighted to be sat at the back of the packed-out sanctuary space at Zoo Charteris to see their new piece; an examination of the body, the soul and the compelling power of the nude form.
The power, not the pornography of the body
Performed by six dancers, completely nude, (Some)Body questions the relationship between the flesh and soul, the self and the physical, and what it means to be naked. The cast are vulnerable in their nudity but powerful in their form as they perform a simple, repetitive, almost hypnotic series of vignettes. There are moments reminiscent of the Greek pantheon and the original Olympians, sections that feel ancient and pagan, and moments that are pure contemporary dance. At one point, the cast sing as they stroke the hair of a kneeling woman and it evokes the symbolism of a marriage rite or preparation for holy orders. I am enraptured, and the wonderful score by David Block only adds to the serene atmosphere.
If you’re uncomfortable with nudity, then I absolutely recommend you see this beautiful piece. The simple, unchallenging flesh on display is sensual without being sexual; this is the power, not the pornography of the body. It will chage your perception of the performative nude and leave you wondering why anyone could be concerned by the one thing we all share - we arrive unclothed and, as presented in this piece, so shall we face our maker.
PosleSlov perform with sublime confidence and their manifesto of presenting work internationally as a form of cultural diplomacy could do much to change our attitude towards the country that is currently so vilified in the news. The six dancers on stage represent the artistic heritage of the world’s largest country and Russia could not ask for better ambassadors.