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  • Miles Hedley


One of the themes of Polish Dance Theatre’s extraordinary production Forefathers’ Eve_Copy.Doc is that images more accurately express our thoughts than mere words.

A second theme is that as a species we must strive for a higher consciousness, a pursuit that the bewildering speed of technological progress can help us achieve.

But a third theme pitilessly points out an eternal truth – that whatever we might attain is doomed to annihilation at both a human and cosmic level.

The company’s two-night run at Laban theatre proved beyond reasonable doubt that dance is a perfect medium for investigating such titanic questions because it lets the creators and performers wander at will in the empyrean while allowing us, the audience, our own interpretation of their discoveries.

Choreographer Tomasz Bazan and his dancers Michal Przybyla, Pawel Malicki, Dominik Więcek and Adrian Radwański – backed by Marcin Janus’s eeriely apt electronic score – were inspired by Forefathers’ Eve, an astonishing day-of-the-dead epic by Poland’s national poet Adam Mickiewicz, and by William Gibson’s sci-fi Sprawl trilogy.

In a nine-movement dance, we were led from the creation of a new world to annihilation, a moment wonderfully illustrated by projecting the image of a spinning human spine and ribcage that slowly fades into the blackness of oblivion.

In between we were shown how sentient life can range from instinct-driven homunculus to hyperbody, mechanoid and even zombie forms before, of course, the final cataclysm.

The use of a transparent screen, designed by Grzegorz Kaliszuk, was inspired because it split the stage into real and virtual worlds and also allowed images from each to be projected on to it.

And the dancing was out of this world, the performers – one naked, the others nearly so – often twisting into shapes and patterns that seemed to defy human geometry and capability.

I left the show with my mind and imagination buzzing, in part because of the questions the work raised but mostly because of its staggering ambition and the exhilarating way in which it was presented. It was a triumph of mind, body and soul.

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