Direction: Igor Urzelai and Moreno Solinas
Reviewer: Peter Jacobs
Andante is a musical term that refers to a work (especially as a direction) in a moderately slow tempo. It originates from the Italian verb andare – to go.
Igor (Urzelai) and Moreno (Solinas) are among the first artists to benefit from The Lowry’s ‘Developed With’ programme, in which they invite four promising emerging companies to participate and benefit from a year-long package of support to help them develop a new work. Igor and Moreno have previously produced several works including the award-nominated Idiot-Syncrasy (2013) and A Room For All Our Tomorrows (2015), both of which visited The Lowry and toured internationally.
Igor and Moreno make works that are hypnotic and visceral. They present what seems a simple idea simply and allow the viewer to emotionally and intellectually navigate the experience. They do this through repetition, slow evolution and accumulation of movement within space: there is often a durational element to this. Their practice uses dance to present work that could be almost equally defined as installation or performance art. They often add the human voice. Another common element of the pair’s work is a soft, direct gaze with the audience, gentle and wise, that speaks nothing but tells everything.
Andante uses walking and ‘moderate slowness’ as a starting point. As with Idiot-Syncrasy, this show is better experienced than described. The invisibly-painstaking complexity of its construction threatens to unravel on explanation. It takes skill and development to produce work of this richness and complexity from such unfussy movement. The show is a meditation on time and attention; on observation and obscured perception. The overwhelming sense is that something is being communicated to you so fundamentally obvious and profound that it is almost impossible to comprehend what it is until and unless you just allow your consciousness to absorb it.
The closest experience to offer is that it feels like meeting the aliens in the 2016 film Arrival in person. The strangeness and beauty and sense of time shifting are almost disconcerting.
This strange sense is underpinned by the measured and deceptively-simple choreographic narrative devised by Igor and Moreno with fellow performers Giorgia Nardin and Eleanor Sikorski. This is further layered with the modulated plainsong humming that builds progressively from silence through melody and discord to merge with the simmering presence of Alberto Ruiz Soler’s benevolently-ominous soundscape.
But what really catapults Andante into greatness is the accompanying design elements: from the tiny white explosive capsules that pepper the black edges of the white stage, to the graded infinity cove that makes The Lowry’s Aldridge Studio seem more vast than conceivably possible – the removal of the dropped front seating and the levelling of the stage with the main floor also aids this impression. Set and effective costume design is by Kasper Hanson.
Most of all, Seth Rook Williams’ immense lighting design creates a sense of pristine wonder from the start and utterly transforms the other key design element – the smoke. Oh, the smoke: billowing white clouds of spicy, intoxicating smoke that engulfs the audience and transforms the performers to strange, elusive presences in an alien dream world.
Time ceases to exist – only sensation. If you can allow your senses to absorb and drift from the start – overcome any resistance and just be – andante – moderately slow.
Andante is just emerging on its journey into the light with its first two showings at The Lowry. Who knows how it may evolve, but it already feels like a significant piece of genre-shifting new dance
Reviewed on 20th October 2017 | Image: Contributed