Company Wang Ramirez – Monchichi
Capitol Theatre at the Riffe Center
March 1, 2016
Reviewed by Steve Sucato
Pulsating electronic music filled Columbus’ Capitol Theatre at the Riffe Center as Sébastien Ramirez and Honji Wang, a.k.a. Company Wang Ramirez, took the stage March 1 in their 2011 dance-theater piece Monchichi.
Not to be confused with the line of popular Japanese stuffed toy monkeys, the 55-minute Monchichi combined an abstraction of hip hop dance with other dance styles and martial arts movement that could very well represent the first salvo in the next trend in contemporary dance. Frenchman and former hip-hop B-boy, Ramirez and ballet-trained Wang – a German-born dancer of Korean descent – were nothing short of stellar in the abstract work that infused narrative, atmospheric lighting effects and a dose of humor. The pairs’ dancing throughout it was crisp, polished and masterful. On shadowy stage occupied only by a leafless tree, Wang, costumed in lingerie and sporting a top bun, moved her hands in bird-like flaps as a shirtless, shoeless Ramirez in long pants skittered behind her in movement blending hip hop flamenco dance.
Performed to music composed by Everdayz (Ila Koutchoukov) along with selections from Carlos Gardel, Alva Noto, Nick Cave and others, the pair moved through individual riffs that were as practiced as Tai Chi and as smooth as silk.
As the work progressed, the once sparse tree glowed red with bulbs that lit sparking imagery of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Just one of many images the two dancers conjured up in choreography that had them chasing one another, bickering with each other, and spouting random narrative including Ramirez recounting living in Germany and an old man from his neighborhood being named Monchichi.
Much more could be written about the many layered goings on onstage and the smart and interesting interactions between Wang and Ramirez, but only seeing the work for yourself can do it justice. In the end what transpired in Monchichi was a captivating slice of life delivered by some killer dancers that was a highlight of this and any other dance season.
Steve Sucato is a former dancer turned arts writer/critic. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Dance Critics Association and Associate Editor of ExploreDance.com.