Joannis Mandafounis & Corpus:
It Finishes When It Finishes
April 20, 2018
In the marketing material, Corpus and guest choreographer Joannis Mandafounis promises a great fusion of movements and magic. Well, you have to have a rather broad concept of magic to be satisfied with the result.
Mandafouris, a former dancer with Nederland’s Dance Theatre II and Forsythe Company, has set up shop in 2009, and has built a strong base with his own company. On that base, one dares to expect a good and coherent performance.
Unfortunately, someone must have mentions the word magic in the process, and that had led to that the actually very skilled Corpus ensemble of six dancers had to be magicians as well as dancing and improvising parts of the choreography.
It is easy enough to throw paper spaghetti at the audience and each other. However, the slightly more advanced standards tricks demands more skills. Although some of the tricks could have worked, in most of them, the audience was made early aware of what we could expect. A chapeau claque hat is more impressive, if it had not already been folded out by mistake before the trick. Etc.
Another trick, making the pianist Alison Smith, fuming smoke out of her dress, was simply demonstrated too many times.
It is not the first time, a Corpus performance have failed to deliver on a reasonable standard. The main reason may well be the strategy of constant trying new roads and new methods, including the strong focus on improvisation.
The group of dancers is expected to constantly renew themselves instead of building a common platform to develop from.
There is probably a reason why the most successful modern dance companies are the ones who are focused on one or few choreographers. These companies do sometimes bring in a guest choreographer, who creates a new work on the dancers. That is a vital part of developing the dancers and the company. However, the shared base is the most important tool in these companies success.
A platform to stand on
Corpus have a small, but strong team of dancers. They have a stage to perform on and a budget. Thereby they do have stronger platform than most other newly started ensembles. It does not look like their leader; Tim Matiakis is keen on choreographing himself. He has some previous experience with choreography, but he is certainly not pushing his own work.
A fine track record
Corpus was created as an outlet for the RDB dancers, and has been instrumental in giving RDB dancers an outlet to create their own works.
RDB dancers Gregory Dean and Oliver Starpov are now choreographing for the main company, while Sebastian Kloborg is working internationally and with the independent company Danish Dance Theatre. The original Corpus have been a significant factor in this positive development.
The separation of Corpus from the mother company have given them independence. However, the company seems lost in the strategy of constantly trying something new without consolidating a platform. Instead of growing upward, they are left as constant beginners.
Photos by Camilla Winther