Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Rex Levitates - Fast Portraits

It has taken me years of struggle, hard work and research to learn to make one simple gesture, and I know enough about the art of writing to realize that it would take as many years of concentrated effort to write one simple, beautiful sentence.

Rex Levitates by Nadia Gativa

I generally am not mad about contemporary dancing. Generally because it is either too contemporary, which mean there isn’t much dancing left at all, or too mad, with an artistic concept overtaking harmony and beauty. Rex Levitates is a completely different thing though. They are the Real Thing.

I first watched this company perform a year ago at the Dublin Fringe Festival in a beautiful space with gothic windows and brick walls. I came without any knowledge or expectations, armed only with a vague warning that it is quite ‘different’. And I loved it. From the moment the lights went off I watched them walk like cats – natural, relaxed, calm and graceful. It was not dancing in the usual sense, with striking poses, dramatic gestures and fake passions ready to impress the public.

I remember only being moved, dipped into some sort of mysterious darkness, as if being told a secret that only those watching with me could share and understand. I thought at that point – I know why this company has its name, these guys really can levitate.

There have been so many attempts to do what they do, with dancers running around on stage, throwing random moves and making weird noises to represent some sort of complex concept. The problem is, if there is not feeling or meaning behind, you can’t fake it. Rex Levitates do the original thing, it flows and there’s no need for footnotes or ‘this-is-my-artistic-vision’ excuses.

So, to this preview I went, knowing exactly what to expect, which is – rather to expect nothing. Don’t think and try to guess the meaning behind each move, don’t try to read it like a pantomime or decipher love or hate on their faces. This is not Strictly Come Dancing - emotions are not labelled and worn inside out. More than that, in the first part of the show the dancer’s faces are impenetrable, almost expressionless. This concentration on the inner side of performance gives you an impression of mannequins that suddenly came alive. This kind of dancing goes through your heart, not your mind, and hits closer and deeper. It’s like being in love and kissing – you can’t remember the details or moves, just the feeling and you want more.

In the beginning there was darkness. Then from it a body emerges circled in light. That’s how it starts. I won’t say much about every single piece, because then there would be no point in watching it. Besides, everybody will see something different in it, so my experience might be useless for you. As Isadora Duncan once said: “If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it” and it’s very true about this dance show.

I will say though, as a word of warning, these guys use a lot of contact improvisation, which means a lot of touching. Having once studied it, I am thrilled to see its elements in modern dance, probably because touching and physical contact is still very restricted in our society and only has sexual/sensual context. But if you watch these dancers, you’ll see that touching is the most human thing, most natural and can be done in a thousand various ways.

If you want to make this experience even more interesting for yourself, watch for a few things and see if you might notice what I noticed:

-       Dancers seem to make music with their bodies not follow it. They don’t stop when music stops, so it seems that they are dancing to their own music playing from inside.

-       For me it was more intense than an action film, because dancers move in groups, sometimes all at once, holding your attention and shifting it, making you feel nearly overwhelmed by all the action.

-       Their faces are very still in the beginning but gradually mannequins become more alive, talk and have mimics, interact.

-       The first piece runs for 23 min but feels like five. I breathe in and when I breathe out it’s already over.

-       In the first piece I see nature waking up and falling asleep, all things alive in a constant movement, unnoticeable and small, but breathing, touching, growing and dying.

-       In the second piece I see a mirror. It’s a surreal 3d effect, like dancing with yourself and against yourself, and watching yourself, and letting the inner dancing self take over and lead while you sit on the chair and watch.

-       In the third piece I see the sea, hear it in the waves their bodies make. I wonder how in the world can they remember each twist, lift and touch and yet move so fast? Are they human at all? There is also a very interesting reference there to a famous painting, see if you recognize it. 

So, go, watch and make up your own mind.

Here is a link to their website, if you are curious -


  1. Super writing... :) Dancing sounds great too...

  2. It's a very sensitive and insightful response to some great choreography and dancing. We need more dance writing like this.

  3. This is amazing, I was reliving both performances there. Rex Levitates really touched my innermost core! Thanks for this amazing piece Nadia! x

  4. you are welcome)) did you write your review? i want to read!