Jan Fabre, ‘The Generosity of Dorcas’

Critiquing a work of dance becomes even more troublesome when the work itself does not stick to what it promises. If one reads the announcement of Jan Fabre’s latest production ‘The Generosity of Dorcas’, premiered at the Implustanz Festival in Vienna, like I have, the physically highly demanding performance appears to be about something else. According to the choreographer, the dance is about Dorcas, a female follower of Jesus Christ. She sewed clothes for the poor and became resurected by apostel Peter to be Christ’s first female disciple. Matteo Sedda embodies her for about fifty-five minutes, in which he changes sex, dies and comes to life gain. While his performance is sometimes wonderful–he cheekily smiles at the audience from time to time with his coloured lips–the evening show captures only because of its spectacular and colourful 3-D stage design. Needles attached to coloured strings hang from the ceiling, forming a curtain (see the photograph), from which Sedda pulls several needles down and puts them into his clothes, which he then takes off. This continues until the dancer is pushed close to his physical limit and only wears his black shirt. Yet, he does not give the audience the shirt off his back. Some people left the performance before it finished, I stayed until the end. Although the performance and the choreography made it hard to read the biblical narrative into the show, I am glad that I stayed on; otherwise, I would have missed seeing and appreciating how much of the dancer’s energy and personality was in the piece. Fabre devoted it to his long-time dancer, who he sometimes calls ‘warrior of beauty’.



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