A woman stands on stage alone. A skinny little thing, she’s wearing black jeans, a white shirt, leather boots with rubber soles. She stares fiercely, intently, at us one by one. And then she smiles.
Dancer Markéta Vacovská is a boxer. We see her warm up. Prepare herself psychologically for a fight. Her movements are quick as a whip and aggressively fierce. In the starkly beautiful focused lighting, you see the sweat flying off her. She’s such an intriguing and impressive sight that it takes a while to notice the two musicians accompanying her. One musician beats a tubular bell to signify the rounds in her never-ending fight. Award-winning musician Lenka Dusilová sings live, looping her own vocals over each other in a glorious ethereal cacophony of sound. She also plays guitar, both acoustic and electric, as a thrilling compelling driving accompaniment to Vacovská’s fight.
Contemporary dance can be flamboyantly showy, designed to remind the audience that we are mere sluggish mortals. This choreography from Spitfire Company, in association with Damúza Theater, is understated, minimal, delivered with such grace that you only periodically clock that this shouldn’t be physically possible. Vacovská is strong but controlled, the master of her limbs and master of the fight. She strings up a boxing ring, the metal fixtures clattering against the stage as a reminder that this is a sport that takes no prisoners.
When she displays the first insidious symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, it’s discombobulating. This is a boxer at peak physical fitness who soared, moments before, above the audience, now forced to surrender control, a prisoner in her own body. A melancholy reminder that no matter how we fight, we’re all ultimately trapped in an ending we don’t want.
Five Czech dance companies are presenting work at this year’s Fringe and this is one of their productions. Spitfire Company are renowned for their contemporary dance and have toured the world with their productions. This show won a Herald Angel when it was brought to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013, and deservedly so. It’s an incredible piece and Vacovská’s performance is stunning. It’s only on until Thursday, so be quick.