APART/HEID, the title chosen by the Belgian dance company, Opinion Public could seem scary to the audience due to its serious and political nature.
There’s no need to be scared.
This production is very demanding but it is also hilarious - performed by exceptional dancers. It's a really enjoyable experience.
The five former dancers of the Béjart Ballet create a range of characters that are supposed to get along in their little community. There are two almost identical men, reflecting each other with a kind of narcissistic pleasure. A sweaty loser who tries in vain to offer his wilting sunflowers to the girl next door.
And suddenly this character doesn’t seem to be like any other type of person. The story then revolves around this character who is half-man, half-woman with a beard and wearing a dress. This leads to all the other characters collectively rejecting them as they seem so abnormal.
This is so until the moment a group photo is taken. It's amazing how the choreographer, Etienne Béchard, expresses all the unwritten rules of group dynamics. You can seem good on the outside but when the social surface is scratched you can find a view on immigration in everyone.
In parallel to the serious way this message is dealt with, the choreographer gives the audience little tender moments as often as he can. The company’s only female dancer’s role shown behind jealousies, is rather cruel. It is almost like a mental burkha. Women and monsters have no voice. Jealousies also represent other symbols during the show. Think about the roots of the word jealousy in Finnish * and the word blind ** in English.
The sublime and the ordinary blend into hysterical pleasure. To the air of Beethoven's funeral march, "Eroica" a glacial wind challenges the group that finally come to an agreement – at least, for the moment. Like the spirit of the winter war ***. Hoisting the flag in the name of humanity.
But does the human being ever learn? At the very least, we need to experience the strong emotions this kind of show gives us to make us stop and think from time to time. The Kuopio audience, wildly applauding and stamping their feet, seemed to entirely agree with me.