Advert

Probing the mind, twisting the body

In body and mind, Kanellopoulou was completely engrossed in this performance. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

In body and mind, Kanellopoulou was completely engrossed in this performance. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

A powerful silence fell upon the audience when the lights blacked out at the start of Penelope: Dust in our Awakened Dreams (MITP, Valletta). Expectancy was inescapable as we sat there in darkness for a good 15 seconds awaiting the main protagonist to mark her stance.

Kanellopoulou deftly avoids conventional ideas and breaks new ground in contemporary movement- Gisèle Grima

The sounds of Mario Sammut’s haunting music led Athanasia Kanellopoulou into the start of her solo – a 60-minute work based on the character of Penelope from Homer’s Odyssey.

Holding an audience’s attention for so long with just one performer on stage is no easy feat. In body and mind, Kanellopoulou was completely engrossed in this performance, clearly displaying techniques that go beyond the conventional.

But behind the apparent physicality of this Greek dancer lies the conceptual bravura of ‘The Rubberbodies Collective’, a fairly new group of artists based in Malta.

Thriving on innovation, the quirky collective have sought to establish a network of creative minds that explores individuality and shares a common ground of artistic expression.

Their ideas are highly profound and may (or may not) shun those theatre enthusiasts who enjoy art for what it is and not for what it could be. Penelope: Dust in our Awakened Dreams is, in fact, rather heavy and esoteric, challenging the minds of those audiences who are ready to experience an intense and holistic theatrical performance.

Split into seven interlinked acts, Penelope is essentially a journey through the labyrinth of a woman’s mind as she longs for the return of her husband Ulysses.

Curious yet ambiguous, Penelope revisits the inner crisis of herself, develops conflict and finally discovers some serenity. Athanasia delivered her performance with much credibility and theatrical verve. Exhibiting a multifold performance, she provoked the body and mind to convey the emotional stages experienced by the character. The manner in which she was able to fold in and out of movements while simultaneously sustaining the character’s mental state throughout, was remarkable.

Stimulated by the psyche of torment, persistence and confusion, Athanasia adopts an unusual contortionist style of moving, the result of which is rather extraordinary to watch. She twists, she swivels, she jerks, then she halts and gently moves her arms in the most arrestingly slow-motion manner. She hides no initiatives and builds her choreographic work on clever artistic concepts. Her idiosyncratic style often creates optical illusions where body positions and shapes are given an aesthetic originality.

Moving with great elasticity, one only wondered whether someone else was dancing with her under that green-hooded cloak which saw her weaving and unweaving through it effortlessly.

Her freakish quivering and moments of hysteria may verge on the melodramatic, perhaps only to elucidate the full potential of the character’s emotional state.

As a choreographer, Kanellopoulou deftly avoids conventional ideas and breaks new ground in contemporary movement. Despite her thumbprint style, dance is not the main driving force in her work.

She seeks expression through other theatrical disciplines which allow her to develop a rare artistic personality.

We can only look forward to watch more of her individuality that brings a fresh outlook to the local dance scene.

There is a final performance of Penelope at the MITP, Valletta, tonight at 8 p.m.

Comments not loading? We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox with javascript turned on.
Comments powered by Disqus  
Advert
Advert