A funeral as the setting for the second dance piece in a trilogy is an intriguing departure point in this new creation by the choreographer Lali Ayguadé. iUanMi, like its predecessor Kokoro, is a contemporary dance piece for four performers that explores internal and external worlds and the transformative relationship between them.
An enormous curtain dominates centre-stage, circular and semi-opaque as if enclosing the dead within life. Yet within it shadows move or body shapes protrude… and it equally evokes the moments before death; those spent anaesthetised on an operating table, perhaps, or vulnerable in the shower like in the classic scene from Psycho.
We imagine the afterlife to be something more exotic and alluring than the earthly one. Filmmakers, such as Alfred Hitchcock, play on this paradox, and his melodrama and black humour seem revived in iUanMi. An old telephone rings, is answered, but then goes dead: an intrusion from another world by an absurdly earthly means offers only silence.
Ayguadé describes a photograph as the inspiration for the piece: one in which an elderly woman carefully applies make-up in a mirror in preparation for a public event. iUanMi can be understood both as an encounter with the other and a reflection of the image of oneself, she says. The role of memory in this exchange is intrinsic: we reflect on ourselves and on our lives through our own distorted mirror that offers a lonely viewpoint, entirely subjective – yet it is our only connection with each other, and those we have lost.
It’s an intriguing yet complex set of ideas in iUanMi that are never resolved, setting the bar high for the final part in the trilogy. It unfolds haphazardly, arranging and associating clips of memory with dreamlike logic. The dancers (all excellent) seem like interlopers on this treacherous terrain. With emotion suppressed then revealed in bursts of movement, they portray a self-conscious struggle to express oneself appropriately in a discomforting setting.
Lali Ayguadé Company
was at Mercat de les Flors
1st to 4th March 2018
(click on company website above for future touring dates)