Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Zero Visibility Corp (ZVC) and I knew nothing, did I?

Two people are chained in a cave. They watch reflections flicker on the walls, mistaking them for reality. One person escapes from the cave, to experience daylight and truth. Returning to the cave, they attempt to explain what they have seen.

Taking Plato's metaphysics as a starting point is a brave intellectual move, but Zero Visibility Corp (ZVC) never manage to convert this initial conceit into a coherent whole. It is never quite clear which of the four dancers represent the two cave dwellers; apart from the occasional bout of staring directly at the audience, none of them are able to reach out and escape the austere white set. The dances are beguiling, yet distant: it is difficult to relate the vigorous set-pieces to Plato's text. Their use of harsh electronic music, a bare stage and non-descript costumes makes this production particularly opaque, while the interludes of flickering lights and backlit projections are visually arresting but obscure. 

The real pleasure is in the dancing itself. Combining movements from classical ballet and martial arts - which are never reduced to pastiches or quotations - ZVC have a distinctive style. The dancers remain graceful, even when they expressed brutal passions or exhausted themselves across each other or the gym horse that served as the solitary prop. The failure to properly address the dense layers of meaning inherent in Plato is, paradoxically, a refreshing change from the didactic intensity of much modern theatre. It is rare to be able to admire the finesse of performance and the complexity of choreography without linking it to the company's purpose. Despite their intellectual pretensions, ZVC operate best as a celebration of pure dance. [Gareth K Vile]

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