Richard Antrobus called Afternoon of a Foehn “the best piece of dance I’ve seen since forever, and it’s with plastic packets!”
And that is just what it is, 45 minutes of dance like you have never seen before. This innovative piece of performance art proves that you don’t need skilled, professional dancers to make a piece of dance magic, you don’t need dancers at all. All you need is a central, circular stage, a black-clad ringmaster, knowledge in arts and crafts, sticky-tape, plastic bags in an array of colours, an imagination like no other, and a lot of fans. The electric type.
And with these tools, plus some spectacularly descriptive orchestral music to drive the journey of the piece, the Non Nova Company have succeeded magnificently in making Afternoon with a Foehn one of the most beautiful, playful, epic and truly mind-blowing theatrical experiences Festival audiences have seen in a long time.
This said, one of the performances’ greatest successes is its simplicity in conjunction with the eye-popping spectacle that is conjured on, and above, the stage. Using and controlling a kind of wind vortex, the so-called ‘puppeteers’ create an illusion of unusual little dancers of different colour, patterning and character, which twirl and float their way through a series of episodes, much like your classical ballet. Sometimes the lone protagonist impresses with his sleepy, lilting solo; a pair of lovers a twisted ‘pas de deux’; an incredible storm of white flying ensemble work — and even a knight battling a spectacular Chinese-style dragon. All these plastic dancers are brought to life (literarily and figuratively) by both the ringmaster, who resembles a Buddhist Prospero, and the technical team who master over the performance, controlling and manipulating a world of unpredictability and spontaneity.
Unfortunately word has spread and thus it is completely sold out for the rest of Fest. But there have been whispers of extra performances so hold thumbs if you haven’t experienced this truly enchanting piece of dance. — Kei-Ella Loewe