Le Courrier

Dancing the over-fullness of the world

Rudi van der Merwe has a lot to say about the state of the world. The South African dancer and choreographer living in Geneva has in the past few years been probing our place in a globalised world, submerged in a constant flow of information. In I’d like to save the world, but I’m too busy saving myself, the artist, who studied literature and theatre before participating in ex.e.r.ce with Mathilde Monnier, already observed neo-militant endeavours and interactions with the demonstrating crowd. These themes featured again to a certain extent in Miss En Abyme, which highlighted the stereotypical figure of the bimbo. Moreover, the pieces of Rudi van der Merwe, performer with Cindy van Acker, Gilles Jobin or Yan Duyvendak, often dwell on the issue of sexual identity. Today, two key words, ‘buzz’ and ‘riot’, are the backbone of his new creation presented at the ADC in Geneva. Buzz Riot, the title of the piece, takes shape around an impressive video creation projected on a huge screen towering skywards, with which, Rudi van der Merwe and his sidekick Claire-Marie Ricarte, interact as if it were a third performer.

A multitude of little video sequences are already active on the screen before the two performers appear, wearing shorts and gas masks, equipped with spray cans to accompany the choreographic movement and to block out the sound of the mass of information that goes around on the internet. They then use the screen like a shadow theatre evoking a type of totalitarianism when they slip behind the screen and adopt hieratic poses reminiscent of Stalinist iconography, soon to be replaced by a pose taken from James Bond pointing his gun at us.

Images that run in a loop certainly has the power to shape minds, but the choreographer seems to tell us that it is up to us to determine its impact by taking part in the action that it conveys. Driven by an increasingly heavy techno beat (provided by Christian Garcia), the tension on the screen mounts, the movements of the duo also make a crescendo. The projected images become more and more political and frightening, showing among other things, activists and right next to it, summary executions. The rhythm at which the images follow each other is such, that it creates a real sense of movement, echoed by the movement of the two dancers in a corner of the stage. A hypnotic piece, extending this week into workshops organised with and by Rudi van der Merwe.

Cécile Dalla Torre