At first I was intrigued by the unusual title of The Lakeside’s dance event, Apnea. Although, having discovered a definition to be ‘the temporary cessation of breathing’ I was rather the more sceptical. As this show was part of the NottDance Festival 2013, with a focus on the question ‘What can dance be?’, I went in with an open mind. Little did I know, nothing could have prepared me for the showcase of ‘dance’ which lay ahead of me.
The showcase featured the solo performer, Rodrigo Sobarzo, as he was put through his paces. Crouched down on the floor, he shovelled dirt from a wheel barrow onto a speaker, beating at a clear piece of plastic with his hands, and last but not least, then reflected a beam of light off a metal panel on his chest. This interesting combination managed to expand over an entire hour.
As I walked into the theatre I was met by a white floor. A sheet of plastic hung across the stage and a man, dressed in white, controlled the playing of artificial sounds, which I can only compare with the threat of an alien invasion! This obscure sound was accompanied by an uncomfortable humming sensation which after twenty minutes gave you a bit of a headache. I was informed by the man next to me, who I later came to know as Laurence, that this noise was supposed to simulate in our own bodies the feeling of troubled breathing.
A personal highlight of the show occurred in a moment after a whole wheel barrow of soil had been emptied on top of the speaker, shovel by shovel, across the duration of five minutes. Much to my dismay the dancer proceeded with his empty wheel barrow to the back of the stage where two more full bags of soil were awaiting the same treatment. Laurence at this point, to the bemusement of the surrounding audience, had left his seat and was on his knees, with fist clenched, facing avidly towards the stage. I decided that perhaps I was missing some deeper meaning.
If Apnea did achieve anything, it really did push at the very outer boundary of the concept of ‘what is dance?’ with the different concepts initially encouraging the audience to think about the effect of the actions. The image of the man pushing on the sheet of plastic did seem like he was swimming through an endless sea but after fifteen minutes of watching a man stroke a sheet of cellophane, with accelerating vigour, I felt less pensive and more bemused. All the while I was getting distracted by Laurence next to me looking as if he was about to have an epiphany. Why did I pay £6 for this? It was just rather exhausting watching all that shovelling and arm swinging. But then maybe it was premium quality soil.
After the whole experience I just had to ask my new friend Laurence what he had thought. I asked him if he enjoyed it. He answered with a simple, “Yes, it was good.” When asked the question back I replied “I thought this was advertised as more of a dance event.” He replied “No, it was dance”.