Review: Re:birth at The Place ★★★★★
A performance of movement and emotion, as exhilarating as it is mesmeric, Van Huynh Company’s Re:birth is a transcendent dance experience.
Originally premiered in 2022 at the University of Plymouth, Van Huynh Company’s Re:birth is a dance work which retraces choreographer Dam Van Huynh’s personal experience of rediscovery to explore universal themes of displacement.
To the un- or less-initiated, Re:birth is perhaps less dance, more movement – and certainly an experience as much as a show. Bookended by solo vocal performances from Elaine Mitchener in pitch black darkness – the opening few minutes evoking images of demonic possession – the body of Re:birth is a collective endeavour of intense physicality. This is a performance which pushes at the boundaries of what dance can be, and there is a thrilling sense of danger in the way the cast – Paul Davies, Laura Kenyon, Marc Krause, Wai Shan Vivian Luk, Tommaso Petrolo, Marley Seville and Mitchener – allow their bodies to twist and turn with abandon.
There is bravery, too, in a production which is both physically demanding and exposing. There is nakedness of body and emotion, a giving of sweat and tears, a total trust and commitment to each other and to the audience.
There are echoes of discovery and rediscovery throughout, of physicality, sensuality, language, voice, memory and dream. And all of this plays out to a totally enveloping, embracing soundtrack (credit to Martyna Poznańska for the composition).
The expanse of the stage at The Place is fully exploited, and at times there is so much going on it’s hard to choose where to look – it’s pleasing, however, to feel trusted as an audience, rather than to be hand-held. At other times, any one of the group is capable of holding the entire space in the palm of their hand, leaving a rapt audience holding their breath.
Special mention should also go to the lighting design of Patricia Roldán Polo, whose work truly showcases this incredible performance – Re:birth looks incredible.
It’s impossible not to leave Re:birth feeling a whole bunch of things, not least inspiration, and the words of Audre Lorde resonate long after the final curtain call:
Caring for myself is notAudre Lorde, A Burst of Light
self-indulgence, it is self-preservation,
and that is an act of political warfare.
Van Huynh Company return to the UK on 30th November for a performance of In Realness at Edge Hill University.
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