Dog Without Feathers
Debora Colcer Dance Company
/UK Premiere May 2019/
‘Dog without Feathers’ is the most primitive, visceral show I’ve ever made’, says the Brazilian choreographer Debora Colcer, in the context of her statement that ‘the human condition, the enigmas of life, the inconceivable in existence’ have become a focus of her work.
Based on of the poem Cão Sem Plumas, Dog Without Feathers, by the Brazilian poet João Cabral de Melo Neto, which Colker chooses as a starting point of her piece, Dog without feathers is a requiem about nature – ‘both geography and human nature’.
But the sentimentality of the subject as a loaded trigger flies into a rage against injury and obedience, and a call for nemesis, which Debora Colker describes in an extraordinary atmospheric collage of motion, moving image, and sound transitions.
A film projected on an enormous screen in the background absorbs the viewer into the matter of physical traces of abondance, despair, and isolation alongside Capibaribe River banks in northeast Brazil, which area ‘hosts’ a clash between devastation and survival, and its dramatism is reinforced by the color scheme, the rotten land, and the cinematic features, which juxtapose close and distant plan, desertion, but ever-lasting presence. The choreographed miss-an-scene simultaneously illustrates the same narrative through movement, conquer of space, and interplay with a cage-resembling set.
The choreography is distinctively characterized by short jerky gestures, extended in broad floating whip alike movements, which seem impossible to achieve unless the figure is spineless. Transition from solo parts to coherent group formations of vivid kinetic particles of flesh and mud piecing together in homogeneous vibrating, pulsating humane-animal mass evokes the idea of an advancing troop or ritualistic procession following more of a rumbling and knocking sound. There is definitely much of a ritual in the stylistics of the choreography, as well as symbolyc appearance of snake or birds, descendent, with no doubt, from the authentic features of Brazilian culture and mythology.
The highlight of the performance is the inhumane embodiment of the dancers, their almost painful precision, and tremendous skills. Those skills, however, are not being perceptible through the elegance of physicality and the purity of nudes, but rather by the figures being disguised, almost disrupted, into the form of animal-like creatures, which menacingly hide in their swamp-refuge. Their bodies and faces - covered with mud – as wearing dry earthy masks of warriors, where the alive piercing look talks about suffering, but a striking commitment. Yet, is this abundance of identity means unifying against collective fatallity? And if so, what is the role of the individual charachter, assembling in a group of three figures?
There is, at times, a conflict between moving image and performance itself, the screen steals the attention away from the performers, and if this is deliberate, it lacks substantiation. At times the narrative becomes vague, the consistency of narrative is dispositioned by an alternation of continuously repetitive sheems, but suddenly the ‘arrival’ of the set transforms the space and bring a new burst and an increasing exaltation.
Doubtlessly, Dog without feathers is a measmarazing synthesis of visual and emotional affection, but it also implicates eternal existential ..., which leaves the audience with the haunting feeling of both admiration and empathy.