Ultima Vez

Article excerpt

UCLA's Royce Hall, Los Angeles

May 2-3, 2008

Meathooks. Bricks. A solitary feather. These are some of the props that Belgian choreographer Wim Vandekeybus uses in his retrospective work, Spiegel (German for "mirror"). At 90 intermission-less minutes, the opus creates a netherworld, one where brutality butts up against fantasy and struggles of various stripes jostle for position in an increasingly dodgy universe.


Ultima Vez (Spanish for "the last time") was founded in 1986. Spiegel, excerpts from six Vandekeybus classics strung together, is a reaffirmation of the troupe's ability to not only embrace sheer physicality but, in so doing, take its audience along for the perilous, yet satisfying ride. Opening the performance was an intense stomping section from What the Body Does Not Remember (1987). Featuring the nine dancers in unabashed fight-flight, rolling-trolling mode, one group lay prone on the floor, quivering and writhing while another furiously trampled around them.

This is definitely not your mother's modern dance.

The brick-tossing section, also from the same work, demands split-second timing. As cement stones are heaved amid the performers, they gain momentum, soaring over heads and into waiting hands. …