Noora Keela in Hubert Essakow's 'Ignis'. Photo © Jane Hobson

Noora Keela in Hubert Essakow’s ‘Ignis’.
Photo © Jane Hobson

Print Room, London, UK; February 11, 2014

Charlotte Kasner

After three and a half hours of the self-indulgent rambling that was Pina Bausch, it was a blessed relief to find, in Hubert Essakow, a choreographer who knows what he wants to say and who then does is effectively and succinctly.”Ignis” is the second part of a trilogy (the first was “Flow” depicting water) dealing with the elements.

The Print Room offers a rare opportunity to experience dance up close and personal and also happens to have a very good blackout. Lighting outside is also dimmed so the choice of a shining floorcloth gained maximum effect and also made a reference to the water of Flow.

Lee Newby’s set is minimal and Matthew Eagland’s lighting flame-warm and muted. Sitting on the left hand side of the auditorium upon entering provided, by chance, a view of the two-way mirror effect on the opposite side as Sara Kestelman appeared and began reciting.

Each dancer appears to represent one of the elements of the fire triangle with Kestelman adding the chain reaction that sets them going and creates the fire tetrahedron. None can exist without the other but they are also the authors of their own destruction.

'Ignis' by Hubert Essakow. Photo © Jane Hobson

‘Ignis’ by Hubert Essakow.
Photo © Jane Hobson

Noora Keela in Hubert Essakow's 'Ignis'. Photo © Jane Hobson

Noora Keela in Hubert Essakow’s ‘Ignis’. Photo © Jane Hobson

At times, the two men appear to be former lovers and the one female dancer Kestelman’s younger self. Passions flare and die like flames until all subsides into ashes.  The muted tones of Newby’s costumes warn us from the beginning that death in its various aspects is inevitable: death of passion, death of relationships, , death of aspirations, death of the individual.

Feet are rooted whilst upper bodies writhe and twist and arms extend. Soft, flowing ports de bras flicker and draw the eye like glowing embers caught by a breeze. Knots of bodies crawl along the floor then flare up, first entangling then disengaging.

Kestelman’s voice and poetry echo with loss and longing and fear. When the dancers finally speak, they throw her words back at her mockingly, hauntingly.

Jon Opstad’s score tiptoes into the bland upon occasions but he uses a violin to great effect and records a prepared piano to suggest the chiming of life’s clock which becomes increasingly deep and distorted. Sound levels are just right, resisting the often un-resisted temptation to be overwhelming.

This is a thoughtful and intelligent work that showcases the best elements of collaboration to great effect. Although there is quite a long run for such a venue, get tickets now before word spreads about how good this is.