Hueco – York Theatre Royal

Hueco – (Hollow) – a solo dance performance by Poliana Lima.

By Martin Frank

Starting simply with Poliana wearing a red checked shirt and tracksuit bottoms and her hair tied back, this international award winning choreographer and classically trained ballerina read a poem that everyone had been handed upon entry – I Carry With Me, by Carlos Drummond de Andre. Speaking in her native Portuguese, she set the scene in the half light of the intimate studio of the theatre royal. The poem described how we all carry so much with us on our journey through life, which for some may be a burden holding us down, like forgotten secrets buried inside ourselves. It was deep, poignant, and was the basis for Poliana’s interpretive performance.

The room was in complete darkness and the live music (a synthesised guitar at the back of the room) generated most of the music. Sounds and light gradually lifted onto Poliana curled up on her knees in a ball on the floor, with the musician slapping the guitar like a heart-beat. She moves, disjointed and alien. Dance is supposed to be smooth, natural, and beautiful, however Poliana shows us  her throughharacter that life is not always like that. The light brightened as the music lightened, wuth Poliana moving upright around the floor, revealing erratic movements to electronic twangs and scratches of an uncomfortable sound where the music was as sharp and awkward as the dance. She rolled over the floor but collapsed, and rather than flowing like some crippled gymnast she moved backwards and stood and shook like someone lost in St.Vitus’ dance. Yet amongst this apparent random dance there was grace and control, yoga positions held at impossible angles, a rush of movement and then it all stopped, with the room going blank again and the only sound in the black room being Poliana’s panting breath.

This performance isn’t for everyone – it’s avant-garde, very intense and personal, and when the music isn’t playing there was absolute silence from the audience as everyone shared Poliana’s pain and suffering. She rolled about and moved with a head that often seemed dissociated from her body, turning herself almost inside out trying to escape the pain of her journey. There is no doubt that this was an ugly dance performed beautifully. She danced next under a strong spotlight, becoming even more horrific as we lost her eyes to the shadows and she became even more distorted using the shadows to create a more intense anguish. The end was magnificent and morose with a darkness and depth that only a Brazilian with a history of carnival can show, and her black showgirl feathers brought the performance to its ultimate conclusion.  Hueco was everything that you might want from a contemporary dance artist – thought provoking, intense, and so dark that it made you think that the hypnotic performance really was something special.