Ignis – Hubert Essakow: The Print Room, London, 11 February 2014

Firing on all cylinders

Noora Kela reflects on a job well done in Hubert Essakow's 'Ignis'. Photo by Jane Hobson

Noora Kela reflects on a job well done in Hubert Essakow’s ‘Ignis’. Photo by Jane Hobson

Former Royal Ballet and Rambert dancer Hubert Essakow is proving himself a dab hand at choreography. He’s followed the critical success of 2013’s Flow with Ignis, a beautiful and deeply moving work that magnificently captures the heartbreak of having to choose between two lovers.

Told from the perspective of an elderly woman (played by deftly supple actress Sara Kestelman) looking back at her younger self as she flirts, embraces and then makes her choice between two men, the almost abstract narrative is played out with glorious subtlety and an understated finesse. Ignis presents the ruminations of someone struggling to reconcile herself to her past and it’s a visual world where it’s the small gestures and thoughts that tie the piece together – the moment where she’s sought out in tender desperation by the ghostly lover abandoned by her younger self was desolating.

The three dancers were terrific and they had plenty of thoughtfully inventive choreography to work with. The duet between Noora Kela and Lukasz Przytarski where their characters finally settle on each other’s love was joyfully lyrical but it also contrasted sharply against the simultaneous despair of Jordi Calpe Serrats’ rejection. It was also brilliant to see that the emotional drive of the piece came mainly through the performers’ movement rather than the narrator’s prominent voiceover.

Jon Opstad’s music was superb. His sublime mix of mellow electronics with see-sawing violins was a crucial factor in the piece’s hypnotic atmosphere. Likewise, Lee Newby’s simple use of two-way mirrors to alternately reflect the present and reveal the past was tremendously effective and Matthew Eagland’s subdued lighting sucked you convincingly in to the protagonists’ claustrophobic mindset.

Created specially for The Print Room, the venue itself helped add to the intimacy of the work. With just two rows of seats surrounding the stage on three sides, the proximity of the performers meant that the raw emotions on display couldn’t be ignored and the subtlety of the choreography brought an affecting realism to proceedings.

The first ten minutes or so is a little muddled in its’ scene-setting but beyond that Ignis is a wonderful work; absorbing, intelligent and with a powerful beating heart that stays with you well after you head for home.

Ignis runs at The Print Room until 1 March 2014. For tickets and more info head to The Print Room’s website.

Gerard Davis

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