Thierry Smits uses eleven dancers of diverse origins and physiques for this ballet evoking the trance that inhabits their naked bodies. Anima Ardens’ theme, namely burning souls, affords Smits an ideal terrain for observing those beings who succumb to conveyances dictated by a power that runs through them, dominates and subjects them to its sometimes violent temporary hold.
The dramatic dimension of these perilous experiences, in which individuals can sometimes find themselves “cornered” with no possibility of returning to a “normal” state, renders them mysterious, attractive and terrifying all at once. Here, the potential of altered states of consciousness is exploited by how they impact individuals in their physical expression; Anima Ardens proposes a pathway throughout which the tension intensifies to a form of paroxysm that can be interpreted as liberating or, conversely, as deeply disturbing. Whichever the case, there is a reassuring collective force in these men who jointly explore the limits of strange and fascinating worlds where they no longer fully master their movements, voice or breathing.
Lacking all scenographic support, our attention remains riveted on the dancers, on how they differ in their reactions to identical stimuli, identical sounds or, conversely, to those magical moments when they approach in unison the ordeal imposed upon them.