To watch Vessel is to experience a moment as Charles Darwin, stumbling into a primordial oasis, quickly realising something special is about to take place, and then remaining transfixed for 70 minutes as life unfolds and evolves before you.
Vessel takes dance to its most profound foundations, to the very DNA of life itself, as seven performers transform themselves into “the stuff of life” and then masterfully play out the dance of bonding and creation and the inevitable inclination towards living.
You know you are in for a sumptuous production when many, many minutes are invested in darkness and the slow, building presence of sound and life. A large, white-ish pod grows slowly, quietly, and dimly in the middle of the stage, as three clusters of entwirled bodies sit still, awaiting a signal or a calling to action.
It happens soon enough, as one being untangles themselves from the intimate pod of life, and blindly slides its way across the dark, water-covered stage on its back, squeezing itself, catepillar-like toward the audience.
Signs of movement appear from the remaining clusters of dancers and we then witness a coming to life, as these beings, these insects, stretch and twist and flex their ways to some predetermined destination.
With no faces visible to the audience, and dancers maintaining twisted or stretched postures when together or alone, the characters are insect-like, or amphibious, but certainly non-human.
We witness the unspoken, sub-conscious drives as these “beings” follow the pathway imprinted within their DNA.
Again they regroup, this time, some have made it up and into the mysterious, white, floating “pond”, where they discover a thick, white substance which they thrust limbs into to clasp clumps of this material, before covering themselves in it.
Is this the seed that fertilises the cycle of life?
The beauty of Vessel is that the answer does not matter.
Choreographer, Damien Jalet, has brought to life a vision of life becoming alive, and has done so with a superb troupe of dancers, inspired music (Marihiko Hara), and scenography (Kohei Nawa) that will remain with this audience always.
The breathing, the membranes, the water, the light, the sounds, the ripples; Vessel is part human, part insect, part human, but all Earth.