Tehelné Pole Swimming Pool, Bratislava

Review: July 15, 2014

Zuzana Vasičáková Očenášová July 15, 2014, Tehelné Pole Swimming Pool. The lights come on around four in the morning. At eight, the first group of performers race to the stage. Families on beach towels repose in quiet conversations with gravity. The hunt for the sunbeds is under way, punctuated by direct, articulated movements. The fathers, like animated parts of the scenography, quietly wallow in the lukewarm water of the wading pool, for the water in the swimming pool is numbingly cold – just like in the olden days. Flatbreads and cola, youths in groups of three and four laying siege to the water slide. A bronzed wizard with a lipstick heart decorating her pursed, aging lips, fiddles with a tanning spray in an infinite flow of solitary movement. A transparent child-woman wearing a rather redundant bikini top is immersed in a book while her body unassumingly conveys the finest jazz isolations. A haggard Madonna, surrounded by her many children, tries to shake cookie crumbs off her swimsuit while effortlessly raising and soothing one or two Baby Jesuses in a dizzying acrobatic performance. A middle-aged, moccasined Casanova saunters along the poolside, his swim trunks reaching up to his navel – a dignified suggestion of a flamenco entry. The most brutal choreography of the summer season. We have all long since stopped counting the performances.

I enter the stage solo. I drop to my towel. Immediately my body collapses as if into the core of the earth. After a while (maybe an hour's nap) I am surprised to find that I didn't in fact fall into the centre of the earth, and I begin to appreciate the firmness of the concrete floor and the irresistible weight of gravity. I enter into a careful dialogue with the earth's pull. My body appears to have made an imprint into the floor. I fuss around and then relax, finally fresh, my senses ravenous like a two-year-old. I reach for my sunglasses – I fail. I try again, pressing my hand against the floor and reaching for them with my other hand – this time, I succeed. The movement formula of yielding, pressing and reaching out, which allowed us, like toddlers, to make our first independent movements in space, is concluded. An unenthusiastic applause fades in. I rise and head over to the swimming pool. Gravity subsides. I am floating. I perform the dance I learnt in the rehearsal room of my mother's womb, one of the heights of the whole performance – the dance of six limbs around the very centre of the universe. My navel, which faintly recalls its now-faded prenatal glory, proudly floats on the water surface. I finish my part and the Great Director hurries me into the backstage. Parched, I leave to have a cola. I watch the group scene through the silken scarves of the summer haze.

As expected, the group scene on the Tehelné Pole Swimming Pool on July 15, 2014, is very impressive. The company works with the release technique (breathing, working with the skeletal structure, articulating your joints, relaxing your muscles, using gravity and timing for effective movement without excessive strain) and with more advanced forms of contact improvisation (physical contact is elevated to a form of improvised examination).

A beat! The Great Director orders in the technicians. Time for the final scenographic effect. Rain starts pouring down on the scene. The expressions escalate, the movements speed up, and the performers leave it all out there. Suddenly, the stage empties.

As after every great performance, for a while, it is completely silent. The ensuing applause is so loud it cannot even be heard. But the heart remains ecstatic long after the curtain fall. I take the bus home. July 15, 2015, Tehelné Pole Swimming Pool. Bravo! Encore!