As Dance Base’s recent NordDance festival has already shown, there is a great deal of very exciting, non-mainstream, dance coming from the Nordic countries, and it is a great to have the opportunity to enjoy some more at this year’s Fringe. Carl Knif’s solo work Red, is an almost achingly intimate self-portrait, comprising fragmented memories of his life at times when he found himself on an emotional ‘red alert’.
There is an amazing precision about every aspect of this performance: it’s not just Knif’s movement that is meticulousness. The splintered words, the use of the space, the lighting, the props—everything has been chosen with exemplary care. Of particular note is the superb sound design by Janne Hast, which is very much integral to the work as a whole, rather than something merely ancillary.
Much of the choreography comprises a series of frozen moments of differing lengths, which often have very clear trajectories. The use of stroboscopic lighting acts as an extension of this, freezing the smallest movements, while at the times allowing their arcs to be made visible, hanging in the air. Every so often the dance becomes freer and less constrained, as if pressing play, rather than scrubbing over sections of the past.
Despite the emotional intensity of Red, its depiction of painful moments, it is ultimately a joyful work. There is human struggle, but there is also our courage, and through the sharing of some of his own red alerts, Knif reaches out to the audience and lets us know we are not alone.