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Artists in Residence: Joli Vyann’s ‘Imbalance’

“Just how much does my life revolve around technology?”

That is the question we were left asking ourselves after Joli Vyann’s prototype performance at PDSW last week. Following the highly successful ‘Stateless‘, Olivia Quayle and Jan Patzke return with an exciting fusion that explores our obsession with technology. In a world where smartphones, tablets and laptops have become necessities in our day-to-day lives, it is easy to forget to turn off your devices and reconnect with the ‘real world’. Delving into the virtual chaos of the modern age, this thought-provoking piece leaves audiences questioning their own reliance on technology and how it impacts on their face-to-face relationships.

Speaking about the influence behind ‘Imbalance’ choreographer and Olivier award nominee, Jonathan Lunn, explained how the performance had strong roots in the ideas explored in Godfrey Reggio’s ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ (a Hopi word meaning ‘life out of balance’), a renowned documentary that explores how humanity has grown apart from nature. Through dance, acrobatics and circus, the piece eloquently conveys this theme of balance (or lack thereof), with Olivia and Jan telling the story of a couple obsessively dependent on the digital world.

In preparation for the ‘Imbalance’ tour, Joli Vyann spent two weeks as our artists-in-residence, building and tweaking the piece. We caught up with Jan who talked through their time at PDSW and described what they had been working on during their time with us, “The entire cyberbullying section was developed here, and we also worked a lot on the beginning section. It’s been great to have access to a theatre environment”. We also took it back to basics and spoke about how they got into dance and acrobatics. Giving us a brief glance at the sheer breadth of their skills, Jan told us “Olivia did artistic gymnastics from a young age and went on to dance school, doing some circus jobs on the side. I have a background in martial arts. I also worked as a stunt man and went to circus school. When we first met we were able to teach each other new skills. I knew more about the hand-to-hand side of acrobatics, whereas Olivia had dance skills”. The piece clearly strikes a personal note with the performers too. Speaking about the creative process, Jan mentioned that it is a reflection of his and Olivia’s ‘real life’ relationship off-stage, which started out long-distance and heavily reliant on technology.

‘Imbalance’ is remarkably relatable and the audience are likely to see hints of their own relationships in the couple portrayed by Jan and Olivia. It is a pertinent piece, accessible to audiences of all literacies. It has elements of humour, plenty of breath-taking movement and a take-home message for the audience.

This performance was commissioned by Pavilion Dance South West as part of the Shift and Share small-scale touring project with commissioning partners Activate, Exeter Northcott Theatre, The Performance Centre – Falmouth University, ICIA – University of Bath, Tacchi Morris Arts Centre, Theatre Bristol and Tobacco Factory. Shift and Share has been designed in collaboration with partner venues in the South West committed to bringing dance to more audiences in the South West and is supported by Arts Council England.

‘Imbalance’ will be performed at PDSW on Thursday 24th March at 7:30pm.

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