Ultima Vez: a group of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things on stage. And when I say extraordinary, I mean it in the most genuine way possible. The amount of times I sharply inhaled, or clenched the chair’s armrests during their performance was uncountable. The men and women on stage were an energetic combination of gymnasts and dancers, with their executions and straight-faces making the experience almost surreal. To achieve the concentration and strength needed for some of those moves was worthy of an ovation just in itself.
28 years after its creation, What the Body Does Not Remember is still regarded as one of the most boundary-pushing dance shows of this century, with its extreme physical risks and emotional challenges. Similar in style to the works of Newson and DV8, this company uses dance to convey a serious message, and manages to push both their physical boundaries and your emotional ones. I found myself actually whinsing for some of the dancers, who completed over a dozen circuits of the entire stage and still didn’t miss a step, or the two men who opened the show with ten minutes of completely unified push ups and flips. Be assured, I left saddened by the knowledge that my torso would never experience that ‘rockhardness’.
Several parts in particular hit me hard and memorably. A prime example was their sequence of throwing multiple bricks around stage at once which had a level of tension that could never be recreated. Especially if you were sat in the front row, with the ever-present knowledge that you could leave with one less body part if a brick went astray. And I can say with all assuredness that the so-called “Frisking” sequence was, and quote me on this, the best emotionally-provoking presentation of feminism that I have seen to this day. And I’m not saying that to begin a political debate. I just want to applaud the subtext that they let grow in our minds in a ‘you-can-if-you-want-to’ fashion.
So to end, I would advise anyone that wants to see a stage pushed to its limits to demand Ultima Vez to extend their tour. It’s beautifully provoking, daringly witty and a serious example of the future of this art form. Their combination of gymnastics, dance and physical theatre is hard to comprehend, and their flawless use of improvisation combined with multiple layers of simultaneously performed choreographies was hard to fault. So is there anything would I suggest for next time? More bricks.