Review: Rui Horta - Danza Preparata - Southbank Centre
Reviewed: 16 October
The Ether Festival currently underway at Southbank Centre champions innovation, art, technology and experimentation across various art forms. It is therefore, hugely fitting, that the Festival incorporates the celebration of the centenary of John Cage’s birth – a radical composer who made an indelible mark on every art form he came in contact with.
Rui Horta’s Danza Preparata is a solo set to Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes, twenty short pieces composed in the late 1940s. The music is played on a prepared piano, one that has its many strings interrupted by screws and bolts and the action of its hammers hampered by various rubber and plastic pieces. The austerity of the times meant Cage could not afford a percussion orchestra, forcing him to fashion the all-encompassing, intriguing prepared piano. It does seem to house an elf-sized percussion ensemble within its elegant black frame, creating an unexpected, delightful sound-scape.
Dancer Silvia Bertoncelli has a difficult task. Cage’s music is so iconic, and Rolf Hind plays it with such authority and flair. Without referring to a score, his fingers grace the keys of the piano with incredible dexterity. He demonstrates a relationship with the music, with the composer; a tilted head, a wrist lifted with a flourish, an eyebrow lifted – telling expressions in body language.
Bertoncelli, on the other hand, comes across rather stilted, her eyes revealing the ticking of her brain. She performs a wide range of movement and takes on various personas in the hour-long performance. She plays a never-ending game of pick-up-sticks, sporting a rictus smile. She wafts across the stage, mirroring the chilling, fluttering of strings in the piano. Little tics and downturned wrists suggesting a feline femininity develop into agitated bounces and desperate, sudden drops to the floor.
It is clear that Rui Horta has taken inspiration from Cage’s creative procedures in his choreographic process. Bertoncelli has one leg taped at the thigh and foot like a bandage in one section, and in another, only utilises her left arm. With these restrictions in place, Horta comes up with his least aesthetically pleasing yet most innovative work. His lighting designs cut through the white square mat on the floor, dictating Bertoncelli’s space and trajectory, and in turn, speed and freedom.An audible gasp in the audience signals the entrance of Sid, the ultimate chance in this Cagean venture. Comfortably nestled in Bertoncelli’s arms, Sid is alert with ears perked up, visibly enchanted by the stage. The cat’s curious, searching gaze is perhaps the performance’s best representative of John Cage – an artist who constantly evolved, invented, defined and most of all, searched.
The Ether Festival continues with Austrialian company Chunky Move’s Mortal Engine on Fri 19 & Sat 20 October
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