Bold designs are a cornerstone of Deborah Colker’s work, and 4 Por 4 uses installations from four Brazilian artists. First up are six toplit wooden nooks by Cildo Meireles. Each corner contains a slinky woman in a cocktail dress, private dancers who know they’re being watched by the audience and by the men who join them. The choreography echoes the contours of the set and treats the corners as intimate hidey-holes.
Next comes a wheeled table, by art collective Chelpa Ferro, that slides slowly across the stage. A conveyor belt embedded in its surface drags the mechanical tilts and leans of the two dancers sideways and off centre. It’s a sparse, angular episode given a whiff of narrative as the couple is displaced by intruders from beneath the table and from the wings.
Victor Arruda’s exuberantly pornographic floorcloth and backdrop of disembodied mouths, nipples and phalluses frame the next scene. The dancers playfully sniff each other’s armpits, bums and feet, like pre-pubescent kids captivated by a sexuality that they imagine to be naughty and fun.
In a musical interlude, Colker plays a Mozart piano sonata, inconsequentially accompanied by two women, their classical lines cut with hooked elbows and flexed feet. Finally, there is a breathtaking theatrical coup as the stage is filled with 90 vases (by Gringo Cardia). The performers leap, slide and spin between them without toppling a pot. Then, in a kind of reverse limbo-dance, crouch and tilt as the vases rise magically to the ceiling.
Colker's forte is not sophistication, it's showmanship.
This show is a series of spectacular ideas set to undemanding music. Its appeal lies in its visual impact, the risky athleticism and sleek technique of its dancers. Choreographic eyewash it may be; but Colker’s forte is not sophistication, it’s showmanship.