Smoke 2/3

This video is the second section to Mats Ek’s dance film called Smoke. This video features a duet between the couple that was introduced in the first video danced by internationally renowned dancer, Sylvie Guillem and Mats Ek’s brother, Niklas Ek.

Mats Ek has been a seminal contemporary choreographer in Europe with an extensive choreographic repertoire ranging from original to reworked classics in a contemporary idiom. Due to his theatre background his works have a strong theatrical element and are known for having a profound humanity and subtle humor. His characters tend to be a composite of naïve, intuitive as well as strong and original. His movement language is classical mixed with modern dance techniques especially Graham that explodes into raw madness, violence, brutality and sexuality.

We see many of these choreographic and theatrical elements in this duet, Smoke. In the first video we saw the two characters come together in innocence and naivety shown by the tentative meeting staged around an oversized table. They came together in increasing passionate intensity and moved into a relationship of mutual support.

In this video (part 2), we see the relationship has evolved when the man walks up to the table on his entrance. This time he towers over the table, kicking it and the naïve innocence away. The relationship has evolved into commonplace as it begins to crumble apart in conflict. The music is a simple drummed rhythm that feels like an explosive timer marking time, heightening the growing tension. As in the first video the movement is economical and stark mixed with theatrical pedestrian gesture and action. The couple are like two frustrated animals pacing the same small space, staying apart then suddenly thrust themselves together erupting into bouts of shouting and threatening acts. The conflict escalates and suddenly the woman shoves the man away who vanishes into a void.

What I find fascinating about this section of the duet, is I feel as though I am watching a “moving” surreal painting by Rene Magritte. I was amazed at the similarity of the images in the duet with Magritte’s paintings, such as the man standing in the corner and the woman hanging on the wall. Most obvious is the man’s costume; the banker suit and bowler hat that the men in Magritte’s paintings wear. The woman’s costume is also reminiscent in color tones and style together with the stark undefined space in muted grays. The choreography is full of wonderful surreal images as the dancers jump/hang/run on the walls, stand/move together and travelling monolougues and arguments in a giverish language. Even the movement is surreal in an undefinable way with odd movement juxtapositions that flow easily together making choreographic sense.

The dancing is superb. It is amazing how well the dancers bring to life the emotional depths and peculiarities of their characters and how relatable they are!

Enjoy this surreal experience in the second video of Mats Ek’s powerful duet, Smoke and SHARE!


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