December 18, 2014
A daunting danced reflection on ageing
For the Herald
Pablo Picasso once said: “It takes a very long time to become young.” ¿Quién me quita lo bailado?, a play by Uruguayan company Kalibán, shown at Teatro Del Borde, certainly stands as a perfect example of what this statement represents. The play, which features two classically-trained dancers and a musician, all three about 70 years old, casts a light on the triumphs of spirit and mind over body, and makes its audience reflect on society’s judgmental views on old age.
At a time when everything is dismissible and most things last only as long as they can be called a novelty, these three performers come as a breath of fresh air, by managing to turn our conceptions of ageing and physical decay upside down. Luciano Álvarez and Margarita Fernández were once professional ballet dancers, and the technique and discipline traditionally associated with classical dance academies have left clear traces on their bodies and their sense of rhythm. Ana Corti, who completes the play’s small cast ensemble, is a musician with vast experience in body expression and physical theatre, and her stage personality elegantly complements that of her fellow actors.
¿Quién me quieta lo bailado? is by no means a traditional play. Fifteen scenes take place during one hour.
Each scene organically flows into the next one through music, singing, dancing, dialogues and monologues, poetry and other performance arts, constantly shifting from one mood to another, from comedy to dire drama.
While the stream of emotions this piece goes through is beautifully aided by the lighting effects and the sobriety of the stage design, the somewhat jazzy feel of the play owes a much greater deal to its performers’ knowledge and control of their own bodies.
In that sense, one of the things the audience may find most appealing about ¿Quién me quita lo bailado? is the dancers’ extraordinarily fine shape.
In fact, Margarita Fernández’s lean ballerina features along with her childish smile and the way she makes use of her classical dancing skills create the magical effect of making us believe she gradually becomes younger as the play develops.
This is also achieved by Luciano Álvarez, who at one point removes his clothes almost entirely, throws himself on the floor, and starts evoking his very first months of life by imitating a baby in a way that is absolutely compelling.
The ability to look at time in the face and embrace it as a circumstance and not as a sentence is something most people fail to develop as they age.
These three performers come to teach us a lesson on being patient, having a sensible take on nostalgia, and keeping creativity alive in order to truly achieve wisdom and forge a youthful spirit at the same time.
Nothing here is rushed, and everything is enjoyed. When state of mind and body are well taken care of, old age should be far from dreaded.