The opening of 7734 operates like a definition of “music visualisation”. The powerful notes of Wagner’s overture commands the space whilst a conductor brings out the colours in the music, conducting dancers’ arms hidden beneath a cover of bed sheets. It’s the first of many poignantly chosen pieces of music, texts, costumes and stage settings which Vardimon combines to challenge our perception of art and beauty, good and evil, memory and fact.
At first it’s difficult to see how two main scenes; the holocaust and the affluent tourists wanting to make their picturesque view even more perfect, connect, but once they start imagining the world with the ‘uneducated and ugly people’ erased, you see that the beginnings of genocide starts with small acts. Vardimon’s unique contemporary blend of movement, which the company have refined since their formation in 1997 is physical, extreme and lyrical – pushing the dancers to the limits of their flexibility and on the verge of breaking bones.
Vardimon always has great interactive sets for her work. Set designer Guy Bar-Amotz provides the dancers with a Nazi watch tower which doubles up as a lifeguard’s platform as 7734 bounces between scenes of modern day discussions of art, three holidaying friends and a prisoner of war camp. The main set is actually not the tower, but a pile of old clothes – enough to fill the whole stage. These clothes become a sea which parts for Moses, clay for an artist to sculpture and soft landing for dancers as they are discarded like rubbish in a landfill.
When watching 7734 (type this into a calculator and apparently it spells hell) you need to be prepared for a dance-drama that holds a mirror up to society and lets us see every ugly detail for ourselves.
By Libby Costello
7734 is performed tonight, 7.30pm at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Rosbery Avenue EC1R 4TN. Tickets £10-20.