For a choreographer who made her name with works of soul-wrenching melancholia, comment on human cruelty and a song of general postmodern despair, this later work made in 2003 in Istanbul, is a delightful departure.
A scene from Nefes at Sadler's Wells, London Photo: Zerrin Aydin Herwegh
Traditional South East Asian forms dance are combined with a wriggling, jiggling hip-roll; stretched fingers and linear arms with crawling around on all fours and spoken word.
Their relationship with formally suited menfolk is whimsical, charming, and for the most part respectful. The music is convivial, jaunty and in-synch with the movement.
Nefes (meaning ‘breath’ in Turkish) is a montage of scenes from handsprings to eating honey. Couples spin in circles, using gravity to wheel around 360; are swung side to side in plank position; step smugly out of curved hugging arms and leap into the air for kisses.
A pool of water spreads in the centre of the stage until it’s so large we can watch the shimmering reflection of the dancers, or witness them picnicking gaily on the shores of the pool.
The dancers are happy, their demeanour gracious, their relationships placid. Here there is no need to look for the political, the harrowing or ‘the point’. Nefes is a piece to be enjoyed rather than deconstructed. Each facet, every single snippet that makes up the whole, contains a moment of exquisite beauty. The dancers’ smiles; their gentle embraces; their humour and personalities as well as their skill in movement, all come together in a wonderful celebration of relationships and how they make us dance.