D-CAF’s programme of free performances in public spaces, titled Urban Visions, is one of the festival’s vital parts, and this year, it raises the standard with beautiful choreography and thoughtful themes. Challenging the way its audience thinks about public space and engages with it, Urban Visions offers exposure to contemporary art and performance in urban landscapes and with urban themes to present us with new ways of thinking about community in art performance.
Saturday’s performances included Lotte Sigh with Remind Me (Denmark) and Mashy by Ex Nihlo (France/Egypt) and all of Urban Vision’s performances are free to the public.
Premiered in 2008 at Dansescenen in Copenhagen and said to be inspired by Bob Dylan, Lotte Sigh’s appealing performance comprised of a couple engaged in expressive choreography that is supposed to convey the controversies of love. The dancers’ energy and chemistry together made for an interesting and pretty performance, but despite the expressiveness, we ultimately found that the subject matter was not as engaging as the performance that followed.
Ex Nihlo’s Mashy, a collaboration between Egyptian and French performers, was by far the most impressive. With bold, expressive choreography that incorporates elaborate routines with multiple dancers, the lengthy piece never failed to capture our attention and kept us entertained and waiting for what was to come next. Its excellent choice of music made for a thought-provoking experience on the audience’s part; ranging from relaxing tunes, to ambient sounds of children playing football, to electro shaabi, interpretation of the often playful piece in relation to the changing music was a full-time job.
The performance featured a group of men and women who form relationships against an urban backdrop, with complex games and challenges, as well as confrontations, using tires as part of the performance. The show debuted in Alexandria, with eight Egyptian dancers, for the 2013 Nassim El Raqs Festival. While we can only assume that it has expanded in size, we are pleased to say that its dozen or so performers all complimented each other impressively on this scale.
Despite the difficulty of keeping up with all of the performers, something we would say is that part of the charm is the hectic nature of the performance; however, the one downside was the obvious disparity between some of the dancers. Although the standard was excellent overall, some were clearly better than others and given the lengthy time of Mashy, it was impossible not to notice. Ultimately, the performance was exhausting for both performers and audience members, but in the most satisfying and rewarding way.
We wholeheartedly recommend you check out the Urban Visions programme at D-CAF; it will engage and impress you with no extra charge.