By Marcina Zaccaria
At Cuisine and Confessions, anything can happen next. The tumbles, twists, and slides to the ground are truly extraordinary. The acrobatics and storytelling are perfectly rhythmic and absolutely stylish.
Directors Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila have crafted a pristine, glossy world, where everything is flawless, and the joy is in the doing. Sophisticated and complex, performers dance and balance on each others’ limbs. Meanwhile, their communal kitchen is steeped with activity. The audience is greeted with performers in the aisle, handing out chocolates. One-by-one, the performers bear their soul.
Words are an access point for the emotions. Meanwhile, acrobatics delight. In Montreal, where much of the work originated, there seems to be no trying or bad attempts. It’s all execution. With this young, dynamic cast, Sidney Bateman tumbles through wooden squares, captivating spectators. As precision is practiced (diving through smaller and smaller hoops), we are able to see the person through the frame. Melvin Diggs mirrors and counters, while a soundtrack reveals a difficult upbringing.
There’s food and monologues about food. Live cooking keeps the show flowing. Kelsey is brought in from the audience. She seems to blend in, and eat with the performers. Meanwhile, confession is in the air. The scent of spices in the middle of the show provides a mouth-watering, sensory experience. Banana bread is served at the end of the show.
It’s better than a day at the ashram or the food co-op. Large whisks are tossed through the air, juggled five at a time. Few other companies throw an acrobat to a high bar, to lounge among the baskets and play guitar. That’s the element of surprise that is so persistent in Cuisine and Confessions.
Pop music finds its way through this piece. Though there’s a hint at French jazz and re-interpreted show tunes like “We Go Together” from Grease. It’s a stylish, synthesized universe, where the performers often remain on the light side of sharing.
An aerialist, Anna Kichtchenko, presents surprise. Preferring gingham table dressing to fine silks, she is lifted high in the air, twirling and twisting, untying and spinning. It’s a feat of tremendous skill, at an impressive height.
An Argentine performer, Matias Plaul, reveals how his father was taken. Running up the Chinese pole and then crashing down, his story has every element of risk and danger. High above the floor and perpendicular, with a bright red video wall behind him, there is something unfathomable and poetic – not just about the story, but about the sheer grace of the movement. Completely inhabited, yet never overwrought, we get every sense of his struggle.
Photos: Magda Katz
Cuisine & Confessions is playing through April 16 at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, located at 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square in NYC.