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What The Body Does Not Remember

Aymara Parola and Pavel Masek in What the Body-Does Not Remember at Sadler's Wells. Photo: Tristram Kenton Aymara Parola and Pavel Masek in What the Body Does Not Remember at Sadler's Wells. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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The hype around What The Body Does Not Remember – returning for the first time since being performed in London in 1989 – splits the audience in two. There are those who might have been there the first time around and a much newer, younger audience, keen to witness to legacy of Wim Vandekeybus’ ‘groundbreaking’ legacy.

While this physical dance theatre troupe delivers on the promise of intensity, corporeality and the avoidance of over-conceptualising ideas, there is something lacking in the excitement of the performance. For all the promise of raw brutality and violent clashes, it doesn’t really deliver by modern standards. In fact, it is quite tame. In the last 28 years, of course, there have been more extremes on the stage – people colliding faster and harder, higher heights to fall from, more nudity, more risks taken and real danger on offer.

What is more noticeable in this rendition – in between the physical remonstrations of balancing on top of breeze blocks, or throwing bricks at each other, stealing one another’s clothes or towels, flinging themselves at one another, or stamping perilously close to a partner – is the touching humour. The humanity of the characters, their sweet, funny, playful interactions, the strength of Reve Terborg, the comical quirks of Jorge Jauregui Allue, the serious posing of spritely Aymara Parola and sweetness of Livia Balazova all combine to give the impression of a work, if no longer deemed dangerous, true to the human spirit.

  • Sadler’s Wells, London
  • February 10-11, then touring until March 20
  • Composers: Thierry De Mey, Peter Vermeersch
  • Director/choreographer: Wim Vandekeybus
  • Design: Francis Gehide, Davy Deschepper lighting, Isabelle Lhoas, Frederick Denis, Isabelle De Canniere costume, Antione Delagoutte, Gert Van Hyfte, Bram Moriau, Tom De With sound
  • Technical: Eduardo Torroja rehearsal director, Davy Deschepper technical co-ordinator
  • Cast: German Jauregui Allue, Jorge Jauregui Allue, Livia Balazova, Maria Kolegova, Pavel Masek, Zebastian Mendez Marin, Eddie Oroyan, Aymara Parola, Reve Terborg
  • Producer: Ultima Vez
  • Running time: 1hr 30mins

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In an updated version of this work from the 1980s, we see a different side to the dangerous dancing