By Carmel Shortall
In Between Butoh’s dance performance, I Dreamt of a Flower provides a Fringe experience like no other at the Kentish Town Community Centre. The piece is inspired by George Bataille’s Blue of Noon, a savage and sordid romp through fascist Europe before the Second World War.
A side door opens and an orange ball rolls across the floor, hits the wall and rolls back. With measured pace, Ezio Tangini follows it through the same door. He is wearing a hat and coat and, as he gradually raises one leg while slowly lowering his head, his hat falls off. The ground seems to be drawing him down as gravity also takes his coat. Still his body resists the lure of the floor, one arm reaching out as if to…
…Flavia Ghisalberti is sitting by the main entrance where she has been greeting the audience. She now announces her presence in the piece by loudly moving her chair back, drinking noisily from a bottle, sighing and fiddling with a radio. She contorts her body to look back at Tangini, then away from him again.
Meanwhile he has reached some kind of tipping point and falls to the floor. Facing away from him she laughs and the lights go out. She lurches drunkenly across the darkened room towards the wall where she collapses trembling, and he attempts to raise himself from the floor
Eventually they are entangled in a troubled embrace, bound together with sellotape that she has twisted into rope. First she binds him, then she slips her own bonds, escaping again to her bottle on the other side of the room. She sprawls on, then proceeds to bind herself to, the chair. “I dreamt of a flower,” she stutters.
The end, when it comes, is explosive. As Tangini continues to rise and fall on the floor, trying but never quite managing to raise himself up fully, Ghisalberti snaps the sellotape ‘ropes’ that hold her and storms across the floor, shouting what sounds like “basta!” – enough! or stop! as she stamps off the light and we are, once more, in darkness.
The whole dreamlike sequence takes only half an hour but it is a very intense and intimate half hour. The key word is intimacy – for the sense of intruding, of being witness to private anguish, is palpable. Ezio Tangini and Flavia Ghisalberti demonstrate a compelling physical authenticity, spontaneous yet controlled, in this strange and stark work.
In Butoh dance, the body – not the mind – dictates movement and, as such, no two performances are the same. The soul of Butoh is improvisation, of being in the moment, which is just as well, as the dance studio at the Kentish Town Community Centre is not an ideal space for this type of performance – a black box theatre would be much more suitable.
I Dreamt of a Flower provides a unique experience and continues at the Camden Fringe for its last night on Saturday 29th August, the Kentish Town Community Centre, 17 Busby Place, at 9.00 pm. Tickets are £6.50.