Contemporary dance performance Silencio atJameos del Agua

Contemporary dance isn’t something I know a great deal about. But as the Lanzarote Contemporary Dance Festival is underway at the spectacular Jameos del Agua Auditorium, it’s a great opportunity to learn more.

The festival kicked-off with Silencio last Saturday 3rd, a performance directed and choreographed by Daniel Abreu, a dancer originally from Tenerife. This theme was chosen to represent voids in our lives, and that something will always fill those spaces, whether with our thoughts, emotions or imagination.

Arriving at Jameos a little early is a must, to enjoy a drink overlooking the mesmerising beauty of its interior lake, or under the clear starry night sky around Cesar Manrique’s turquoise open air pool.

Once seated inside the volcanic auditorium, the performance started – as expected – in silence. Deep eerie silence. An almost deafening silence as Abreu moved onto the stage. Never before had I thought about how the cave’s perfect acoustics could accentuate a total absence of sound.

Abreu writhes around on the floor with grace, but somewhat anxiously. It reminds me of those sleepless nights, where as much as you try, the thoughts intrude and prevent you from sleeping.As soothing music resonates impeccably around the cave walls, he is joined by a female dancer and they enter into an elegant exchange. Their bodily movements are so fluid and smooth that one move flows seamlessly into the next.

Abreu takes the lead and alternates between turning and her like a marionette, to seemingly dragging her across the floor, even though her body trails like a silk gown. She flows from one space to another so gently that she could be underwater.

What astounds me the most is how Abreu lifts her horizontal, straight body with one hand and Houdini-like powers. Her body seems to defy gravity on all counts. I marvel at the sheer physical strength and athletic ability that is required to pull that off and it look effortless at the same time.

Another female dancer joins the spotlight and a series of different scenes unfold. The music varies from soft and graceful to more intense, as do their body movements, blending to the dramatic and then towards a sleazy, night time mood. One woman has spider-like dreadlocks and dances like a scorpion in the spotlight. The other enters, topless and painted with carnivalesque gold body paint, her movements resembling a those of a bird.

By now my imagination is running wild as I try to interpret the scenes before me. But is only my imagination, and the person by my side saw things differently. And I realise that, sometimes there is no narrative: our imagination wanders, filling moments of nothingness in our lives. And how diverse each individual’s imagination can be.

Silencio touches on the emotional, the physical and the psychological through beautiful but abstract corporal expression. It pries into the soul, into solitude, intimacy, the unusual and the absurd. It explores how our mind can be overrun by random flights of fancy, introspection or anxiety.

The opening act of the Lanzarote Contemporary Dance Festival finished with a standing ovation, and I was sure that everyone felt the same way I did: eager to see what else is the festival has in store with Cul de Sac and Flying Pigs on 23 and 31 of March respectively, and All Ways on April 21.

Do something different, book your seats here