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From the eager for life protozoon to the lonely cyborg. The three-piece night “Entomo Y Otros” at Bonn’s “Into the Fields” festival. By Nicole Strecker

©TANZweb Klaus Dilger


From the eager for life protozoon to the lonely cyborg. The three-piece night “Entomo Y Otros” at Bonn’s “Into the Fields” festival.

By Nicole Strecker

translated by Silvia Werber




A man’s back. Perfect V-shape, a neatly ranked army of vertebrae and ribs, muscles and frail fibrils, ruffled skin. An immaculate sculpture, until the back of dancer Álvaro Esteban acts as if it was an autonomous creature. A vibrant, quivering being that arches, stretches, pumps, as if giving birth to something. What Esteban is doing here with his well trained back, he is capable of doing with every part of his body, as will be shown in the course of the evening. He is a virtuoso of the fragmented body, capable of letting each limb dance – in isolation – into another direction, e.g. gesturing with his arms in such an independently precise manner that makes the torso behind forgettable. It slightly reminds of the body parts number “Sawing a woman in half” at a magic show, whereas in Esteban’s solo “Antipodas” it is presented as a dead serious tragic of being. His ever changing creature is a lost one. Without orientation, stability and defined existence. A creature being constantly exposed to the pain of becoming.



Esteban is a praying mantis with antennas that gently sense the air. He is a bird in its erratically pointless back and forth. A quivering plant that is acoustically being roared around by a storm. And finally: A human being who arduously worked up his way into an upright posture. Finally a godlike creature? Ruler of nature, evolution’s elite? Far from it. In a spectacular final effect Esteban shows his face: A grimace distorted by a wild yell. A cipher of horror.



Esteban’s existential piece about ‘antagonists’ is the beginning of a three-part guest performance at Theater im Ballsaal, over and over dealing with dramatic metamorphoses, losing control over one’s own body, dissolution. In the year 2009, Esteban developed in collaboration with his Spanish colleague Elías Aguírre the duet “Entomo”, which is now highlight of tonight’s “Entomo Y Otros”. First, there is the “Otros” – meaning a solo work of each of the two choreographers and dancers.



Thus, the audience slides during a light-wise cleverly arranged transition from Esteban’s organic creeping-fluttering creature of fight to Aguírre’s piece about a sort of biotechnological cyborg. “Longfade” is the name of his solo, for which he took inspiration from the Dutch-Portuguese philosopher Baruch de Spinoza, whose monism can also be understood as an attack towards freedom of will. Thus, Aguírre presents a creature suffering through the loss of self-determination. Being a respectable “suit”, Aguírre acts as if this was everyday business, but already the first movement shows: The human being is more of a robot than a sovereign – and obviously a robot with fundamental malfunctions.


Aguírre’s body constantly twitches, turns and judders, all the time something is hanging lopsided, a limb escapes into the wrong direction. The mechanics are out of control – and Aguírre a brilliantly trained street dancer for popping, locking and slide-moves styles. This is strongly comical, in keeping with the slapstick principle: ‘When one end is finally under control, there is chaos at the other one’. But like Esteban, Aguírre also seeks philosophical severity through entertaining virtuosity, narrated by contemporary emotions of existence like powerlessness and being externally controlled – and once in a while, one even thinks that he is sketching the psychological portrait of a person suffering from trendy children’s symptom ADHD.



The choreographic as well as thematic closeness between both choreographers in this “Triple Bill” proves to be a disadvantage for the individual pieces’ intensity; occasionally those eternal metamorphoses can be exhausting. But in any case, both choreographers are fantastic dancers and well worth seeing – Álvaro Esteban most recently attracted positive attention in NRW as part of the “Pieces of me” production by the CocoonDance company: formally precise– and especially in the collective production “Entomo” – energetically aggressive.



For the beginning of their successful duet, Aguírre /Esteban lie on the floor like stacked corpses. Then, one is flashed through by life instinct, he raises, puts himself on the back of the thrown down partner – insensible to pain and respect for a body, like an insect. Later, dance-floor music transforms the basic instinct creatures through only minor modifications into monotonously looped techno club dancers.


And whenever one of them breaks out of this dull state of mind, and, for a moment, becomes a feeling human being, lonely, exhausted, resigned – the other one insists on the machinelike mode. As if he refused an encounter, as if conformity provided shelter and structure. “Entomo” enables many associations, reminds of a vain fight against the eternal “die and become” as well as the exciting relation between intellect and instinct within a human being. Or – completely psychological – the end of love. A strong evening about the human being as creature of nature, culture and – by now already technically pimped out – creature of art; maybe after all less a creature of heaven than hell.