HR_Vessel_01A chance encounter by Choreographer Damien Jalet in 2013 with the work of Sculptor Kohei Nawa was the catalyst for the two artists to meet and collaborate on the work that became known as “Vessel”. How very fortunate we are for that collaboration.

The curtain rises to the sound of dripping water and what resembles the call of cicadas. As the light slowly comes up, we see an object, the shape of a volcanic crater with a milky lava like substance in the centre of it, set in the centre of a pool of water.

The emerging light reveals three shapes, intertwined human sculptures. We see legs, HR_Vessel_05arms torsos but no heads. The conjoined figures struggle to separate from each other. Finally separated, the seven dancers move through the water, forming shapes and figures barely human. A perfectly timed “chorus” line moment from the dancers brought a ripple of laughter from the audience.

HR_Vessel_09The dancers continue with their movement and shapes, individually and as couples or trios. They mount the centre piece and move toward the finale when one of the dancers slowly sinks into the liquid.

This production is a remarkable piece of theatre. Damien Jalet has brought another dimension to dance. The dancers’ physicality is extraordinary. We never see their heads until the very end of the performance. The imagery created by their bodies is remarkable.

Kohei Nawa’s design perfectly enhances the mystical nature of the production. The use of water and liquid reflects the fluidity of HR_Vessel_10the dancers’ movement.

Music by Marihiko Hara and Ryuichi Sakamoto and lighting design by Yukiko Yoshimoto, those important elements to the performance are perfect.

The collaborators tell us in the program notes that “their aim was to fuse sculpture and dance”. In this they have succeeded beyond measure. Congratulations.