Dancers tied up with ropes, bodies imprisoned and then freed, movements inspired by a horse, dancers intertwined, a woman held by her own hair. In her seventh work, Nó (Knot), the choreographer Deborah Colker translates into dance a very human theme: desire.
Nó (Knot) presents the elements which have made the company renowned for its communication with the audience -virtuosity in choreography, dancers' precision and strength, exploration and occupation of new scenic areas – but it is also full of novelties.
Wearing costumes by Alexandre Herchcovitch for the first time, the dancers create a show which is delicate, harsh and sensitive, shocking and amorous, a show in which the dramatic comes to the fore.
In the first act, the dancers move among a tangle of 120 ropes. Ropes which are knotted up and which symbolize the affectionate bonds that tie us together. Ropes which are used to imprison, pull, link and free us. In a company known for its discipline, there were months of exhausting training to learn how to deal with the ropes, especially as each day the moves emerged differently.
It also became crucial to master new techniques. Deborah used bondage (a technique used to control pain, movement and pleasure with the ropes) as well as the knowledge of all different types of knots, taught by
a sailor, which contributed to the choreographic construction.
The technical sophistication is soaked in philosophical concepts. In order to deal with the complexity
of the theme, the company changed its working style. Alongside the physical work, the dancers now have philosophy seminars with Professor Fernando Muniz, who will remain a part of the team.
It took Deborah over two years to create her new show, which is co-directed by Flavio Colker. From November 2002 onwards, she developed ten scripts for the show and alternated between rehearsals
and touring the company's shows around Brazil and abroad.
In the second act, the ropes disappear and the stage is occupied by a transparent box measuring
3,1 X 2,5m, a creation by set designer Gringo Cardia. The inspiration for this act comes from the Red Light District in Amsterdam, where Deborah saw prostitutes displaying themselves in the front windows of houses. In this gigantic aquarium made out of aluminum and polycarbonate- material used for making bulletproof cars - the dancers come together and separate. It is a metaphor for desire, for what we want but must not touch what we see but cannot have what we dream of but cannot turn into reality. In the background, we hear Elizeth Cardoso's voice (a late Brazilian Singer from the fifty’s) in Preciso aprender
a ser só (I must learn to be alone) illustrating the loneliness of those women and their clients. The dancers use classical and contemporary techniques in moves which are both delicate and brutal.
The technical crew includes names which have been with Deborah since the birth of the company. Jorginho Carvalho is responsible for the lighting, Joao Elias is the executive director, and the musical direction is by Berna Ceppas, who this time has chosen a more conceptual score.
In the first act an intense humming is followed by guitars, by Alice Coltrane's harp and by songs which
tend to the dissonant, written by Ceppas and Alexandre Kassin. This hardcore beginning is followed
by the lyricism of Ravel, demonstrating that it is possible to find tenderness in a perverse universe.
The second act starts with Chet Baker (My one and only love) and runs over a musical background
which includes Moacir Santos (Coisa n.9), the theme of Spartacus and the divine Elizeth (Cardoso).
Costume design is by Herchcovitch, which plays on eroticism with its tight fitting skin toned colours adorned with splashes of black and red.
With a voyeuristic gaze, the audience follows the dancers in a visceral show, full of fetishistic elements such as hair and ropes. Deborah avoids electing victims and culprits. She wants to show that, in the dominating relationships, there is room for choice and consent. One dominates, the other is dominated but the roles get swapped and mixed up. The human knots are done and undone, the perversity seduces,
the seduction perverts.
– A knot (nó) which strangles and sustains, which tightens and liberates desire, which obstructs
and brings together - explains Deborah.
Since its appearance on the artistic scene in 1994, the company has already staged Vulcão, Velox, Mix,
Rota, Casa and 4 por 4, presented with success in countries such as England, Italy, Germany, Austria, France, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Argentina, Colombia and Chile. With Mix, the choreographer won,
in 2001, the Lawrence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance, one of the most prestigious awards of the London stage.
Now, she returns to the stage with a show lasting 59 minutes, which retains the intense communication with her public and at the same time, excites its senses and gets it to investigate parts so far