This review was written for Animations Online
French flamenco dancer Stephanie Fuster asked experimental theatre director Aurelien Bory (Compagnie 111) to write her a show, and ‘What’s Become of You?’ is the intimate result. It’s a portrait of an artist, revealing Fuster’s strength and her vulnerability. Performed at the Barbican during the final weekend of this year’s London International Mime Festival, it’s a suitably vivid piece of visual theatre that lays bare the spirit of the dance, and dancer.
We first meet the dancer as a novice, working through rhythms and wearing a full, traditional red dress complete with flamenco frills. This dress slowly develops a life of its own, and Fuster’s playful interaction with it is an early highlight. It allows her to recline, three feet off the floor, and turn 360 degrees in mid air. It eventually becomes independent and she is left alone in her underwear. An ambitious dreamer, reality awaits.
A Spanish guitarist and singer – Jose Sanchez and Alberto Garcia – are now present on stage, providing a haunting traditional soundtrack, and we meet Fuster again, track-suited, as she begins her training. A shipping container with a mirrored wall and a glass side provides a studio. As her repetitive practise grows faster and more obsessive, the lighting darkens to red and the glass steams up. She dances with her mirror image, fascinated with what she is becoming, and presses herself against the room’s side, leaving body prints in the foggy glass. Her footwork is incredibly fast and there is a mad heat in the air.
The third and final part of the piece sees Fuster centre stage, in a simple black dress and heels, with water flooding around her feet. She stomps through her moves with impressive vigour and a certain violence, sending water spraying into the air. The red dress reappears, inert, defeated, as a towel to mop her wet face.
The shadow-play becomes increasingly inventive and descriptive. At one point, Fuster’s image is projected in huge shadow onto the wall above the container and it looks like she is on top of a tall building, or on the edge of a precipice. The rippling shapes cast on the container by the disturbed water are hypnotic.
The floor has microphones within it and, every time Fuster’s feet slam down, the impact reverberates through the theatre. Suddenly she slips and can no longer stay standing. The lights go down on her completely soaked, prostrate in the shallow water. As the dancer is humbled, it feels like we’re witnessing something deeply personal as well as carefully choreographed. ‘What’s Become of You’ is an accomplished, slick piece of dance theatre; it is also raw, brave and honest.