Sharon Eyal’s Half Life is a near-impossible act to follow. Performance after performance is greeted with a thunderous standing ovation as the curtain closes on the Israeli choreographer’s hour-long techno-laced post-apocalyptic workout. It was certainly a wise decision to place it in the second half of this double bill. After an initial run paired with Stijn Celis’ Your Passion is Pure Joy to Me – an underwhelming performance of dancers in pastel t-shirts prancing around to Nick Cave that resembled a GAP advert more than a contemporary ballet piece – Eyal’s show-stealer is now twinned with Anouk van Dijk’s Distant Matter. Sporting their fiercest Berghain outfits, van Dijk’s ensemble strut down a white-canvas runway to an exceptional soundtrack by Australian composer Jethro Woodward that blends murky minimalist beats with enigmatic piano keys. The choreography feels at times dislocated from the stellar score, however, and the narrative remains elusive. As the Staatsballett’s first original production since Johannes Öhman took over as intendant, to be joined later this year by Sasha Waltz, high expectations were not quite met. Distant Matter does succeed in whipping up an appetite for a phenomenal second half though. After the break, Eyal delivers a mesmerising choreography of mechanical precision on a misty, radioactively-lit stage set to hypnotic rhythms of layered electronic percussion produced by Israeli techno pioneer Ori Lichtik. The dancers form a synchronised mass from which single dancers emerge and retreat in a dichotomy of the individual and collective. Even if Eyal still steals the show, at least the evening now has a worthier warm-up.
Distant Matter | Half Life May 30, Jun 1, 19:30