Although performed first, ICE is theoretically the final part of V.-Nightmares, a four-part evocation of the seasons based upon Vivaldi’s eponymous concertos.
When the polyptych is presented in its entirety, it is spring that first proclaims itself with Fluid Mechanics, in which nature and the human body alike find themselves in a state of effervescence. This is followed by Tan, smouldering summer, and Moss&Mold, autumn’s decay, and ultimately ICE culminates the seasonal trajectory with winter’s deadly bite and agony.
For this large-scale production, Thierry Smits intentionally plunges into the world of multimedia performance-installations, intensifying his use of screens, projections, lighting, sound and props on stage, as diverse as they are unexpected, but which all punctuate a certain idea of the seasons in all their metaphorical potential with human life that is born, flourishes, withers and dies.
Presaging death, ICE transports us into winter’s cold, silent and painful world. The performers’ bodies enter a form of inertia reflected both in the snow’s whiteness and the blackness that foreshadows the ultimate engulfment, the blackout. The ice that imprisons and freezes life’s impulses illustrates the muscles’ rigidity, giving rise to a preview of embalmment. The piece’s most dramatically intense moment, however, is the agony expressed in the performance by the dancer dressed all in white: her desperate movements are constantly interrupted and her body progressively smeared by the other performers whose hands covered are with thick, sticky, black tar in their attempts attack and annihilate her.