Creature review – dancers twitch and writhe as theatre comes back to life

On the ground, a robotic mannequin, head bowed sadly, joints twitching. Next to it is a pair of twisted legs, ankles flexing back and forth. You can get a surprising amount of pathos from fibreglass and microchips, it turns out. Elsewhere, two part-animal, part-machine people are attached to cables, screens on their backs like shells. Awkwardly twitching, they’re curious to connect and completely unable to. Meanwhile the pictures playing on their backs are of primal scenes, half-naked bodies jumping around in a field and whooping, forgotten images of life lived freely.

This is Creature, originally a gallery installation, now reimagined as a half-hour film, by German artist and choreographer Ben J Riepe. It’s made in collaboration with dancers from Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch (with whom Riepe performed early in his career), and it’s an unconventional mix of performance, rehearsal extracts and elliptical interviews with some of Wuppertal’s veteran dancers about the situation they’ve found themselves in this past year.

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