Imbalance at Trowbridge Arts
Dance with a Strong Message
Choreographed by Jonathan Lunn, performed by Olivia Quayle and Jan Patze (known together as Joli Vyann), Imbalance uses the mediums of dance and acrobatics to explore the impact technology has on each one of us in modern day life.
With the rise of social media and communication made possible in a multitude of different ways, Imbalance tackles the effects this has on our relationships and feelings of personal security as well as weighty issues like cyberbullying.
Imbalance begins in total darkness, before Jan and Olivia’s faces are illuminated by their laptop screens. The audience observes them using the technology in ways that are familiar to all of us, from waving to friends on the web cam to typing up some work. The majority of the performance is concerned with the relationship between the two performers, from their playful, loving beginnings to their destruction at the hands of cyber bullying and contemporary pressures. By the end they have tenderly built each other up again, setting technology aside.
An ex stuntman and a multiple circus school alumni, Jan Patze leaves the audience in awe. Despite his obvious strength, his performance as a man broken by the pressures of modern technology is believable and incredibly moving. Trembling, he still manages to pull off incredible acrobatic feats which draw real gasps from the audience.
Olivia Quayle has performed all over the world as a dancer and acrobat, and when watching Imbalance, her success is easy to understand. Olivia herself seems to be more mythological than human – at the start of the performance she appears to be an almost elven being, mischievous and enchanting, leaving the audience enraptured. For such a lithe person her strength and discipline is incredible, whether she is wrapping Jan around herself with no more apparent effort than wearing a coat or balancing daintily on his head.
As Joli Vyann, the degree of trust between the two stars is astonishing and their chemistry clear to anyone watching. They move swiftly and gracefully together, often as if they were a single entity. 'I've got quite a lot on' quips Olivia, while Jan lies suspended on her side.
Imbalance is performed with very few props. A table is used in many interesting and surprising ways, for example, lifted to show the weight of the burden of technology or as a toy which the dancers use to tease each other. Light, darkness and shadow are used to great effect. At one stage, the lights are turned on and off, giving the audience the impression that the show itself is on a laptop screen being opened and closed. Later, cast by the light of his mobile phone, Jan's shadow represents his online persona, becoming bigger than Jan himself, looming threateningly on the wall behind. The show contains very little dialogue and in the programme Jonathan Lunn explains the logic behind this, claiming that they wanted 'to make the work readable, as one might read a novel'.
In the intimate setting of the Trowbridge Town Hall, it was impossible not to be moved by the performance. As a member of the audience, I caught myself rising out of my seat on more than one occasion, wanting to move closer, despite having a clear view of the performance area. By the end of the act, the sense of catharsis was almost overwhelming. The venue may have been relatively small but as Jan and Olivia took their final bows the volume and enthusiasm of the applause was enough to have easily filled a stadium.
Joli Vyann are currently continuing their tour of the south west, which will culminate in Bournemouth on the 24th of March.
Review by Adele Matterface