He Who Falls (Celui qui tombe) review – hyper-skilled and remote

Barbican, London
Yoann Bourgeois’s circus-influenced piece has a dramatic tilting stage and his dancers in a spin

Yoann Bourgeois is a French choreographer based in Grenoble. He came to dance after training as a juggler and acrobat at CNAC, the national circus arts school, and spent four years with the highly regarded Compagnie Maguy Marin before launching his own troupe. He Who Falls, created in 2014, unites circus skills and physical theatre with a rare seamlessness. If never a profound work, its thrills and gasp-out-loud moments are always expressive of its central idea.

We discover six performers – three men, three women – on a platform suspended above the stage by cables. Lowered into a horizontal position, this structure begins to revolve, slowly at first, then faster. Subjected to increasing centrifugal force, the dancers cluster together, their bodies inclining inwards at ever more acute angles. Individuals depart the group and make exploratory sorties, circling the platform as if battling against a great wind. Beethoven plays on the soundtrack, and is succeeded by Frank Sinatra. It’s clear that if you do it “your way” rather than the group’s way, you imperil and unbalance the joint venture. But you also get freedom. Or do you?

The individual survives only if the group survives. Bourgeois’s six dancers are, he says, ‘a mankind in miniature’

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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