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  • Writer's pictureAlysa Leung

Ultima Vex- (BE)

Hands do not touch your precious Me / Ultima Vex- (BE) (Jul 24, 2022)

Scattered Memories / Ultima Vex- (BE) (Jul 30, 2022)

I put these two Ultima Vex performances together as an artistic growth of Wim. As a choreographer, Wim has been greatly known since he is young age. As a filmmaker and a photographer, he takes visuals as an important element to enhance his narratives. By reference to his words, Vandekeybus’s movement language is about intuition, impulse, and instinct with energy. By connecting German’s workshop, a dance vocabulary workshop conducted by the dancer of Ultima Vex, they emphasise on “flow” and impulsive moves. The momentum of the previous position or movement drives to the next extensive and powerful move.

Hands do not touch your precious Me, photos from the website

Back to the performance itself, “Hands do not touch your precious Me” has a strong narrative storyline. It addresses rebirth and death, love and hate, power and fragility. The mythic story and poetic setting on stage have created the perception of surrealism. Especially with the element of clay, it brings us the connection to ancient stories. But what I want to address is the smell.

The theatre is full of smell.

It has the smell of clay and colour. These materials contain not only a visual effect but also an olfactory sensation. These have led to a sense of realness, creating a space with gross beauty, half human and half divine. It has a strong base in body and music language as usual. However, speaking of the narratives and transition, I found it a bit too “expected” and “distanced” .

By comparing this work with Scattered Memories (2022), I found the latest one is more down-to-earth. It is more “smart” and “designed” to me.

First, the screen is made of a collage of fabric, like memories. As the 35 years celebration piece, Vandekeybus’s direction here is like a celebration. A celebration of the past, as well as the future. I am particularly impressed by the change of screen. As mentioned before, the screen is made of various fabrics; at the beginning of the performance, the dancer changes the hanging role as a statement to address the starting point of “dreams and memories”. The body movement in the scattered movement fragments is a college of Ultima Vex vocabulary, strong and fragile, fast and sharp, imagination, companionship… and these moments are created by the dancers from the past and future generations.

One of the highlights of this piece is that, not only with dancers of different ages but also different abilities. The main character talking with Wim is blind!

However, no one can tell.

He speaks, dances, doing duets like a “normal” person. He learns the movement by touching the other’s body. As the main dancer in a professional company, this working process is ground-breaking. And this shows flesh and blood of art and dance: We are all human. We are imperfect. Yet, together we work the best.

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