it all makes for a heavy going evening, and at 90 minutes with no interval a very long one indeed.
Körper ('bodies' in German) is billed as a meditation on the body, and involves quite a bit of upper body nudity (and some lower body full frontal nudity, too, though not for the men…).
A high dark grey wall placed on a diagonal slices the back third of the stage. In it is cut a large mullioned window. In one of the most engaging sequences of the show, this window provides the frame for a kaleidoscopic picture composed of naked bodies, which move very slowly up and down, in and out, and contort themselves into unexpected patterns.
A fleeting moment of beauty comes towards the end of the performance, when bodies curled up in the foetal position pile up on top of each other forming a human brick wall.
There is no narrative in Körper; rather, Sasha Waltz’s look at the human body – its shape, structure and purpose – comes as a series of increasingly surreal tableaux designed to push viewers into a fresh perspective on the hitherto familiar.
So, for example, when facing the audience and launching into speeches about their bodies, performers refer to one part of the body while pointing at another. The voice says 'head' the hand points at 'foot.' And so on.
In another sequence, two women make rough drawings of human organs on each other’s bodies before slapping on a price tag, and announcing its import, for example 130,000 euro for a liver…
It all flows from the rich seam of German culture’s absurdist tradition, and is vaguely reminiscent of Pina Bausch, though in much rougher form.
There are moments of intense theatricality, as when the high wall topples over forwards with a whoosh, sending a wave of displaced air over the audience and revealing a line of bodies looking suddenly very small and vulnerable.
And there are also intensely soporific moments, where deep silence and slow stage action induce a kind of trance, and not a productive one either…
The 13 performers of Sasha Waltz and Guests, bodies of all shapes and sizes (and indeed nationalities!), cannot be faulted in their energetic and versatile commitment to this work. Created in 2000 as the first of a choreographic trilogy centred on the human body, Körper has moments of inspiration, but on the whole the ambitious breadth of its intellectual concept does not quite translate to the stage.
|What||Sasha Waltz & Guests: Körper Review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
01 Mar 18 – 03 Mar 18, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour 25 minutes approx (no interval)
|Website||Click here to book via Sadler's Wells website|