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Burn baby burn

Notes on Burn baby burn Mari Carrasco

Performers: Carla Mardones Ekberg, Riccardo Zandoná and Jennifer Wallén Elverket c/o Dansens Hus April 18 - 20, 2024

Mari Carrasco, Burn baby burn, performers: Carla Mardones Ekberg, Riccardo Zandoná and Jennifer Wallén. Photo: Thomas Zamolo. Courtesy of Dansens Hus

Sweet, infernal, frenzical dreams are made of this. Even before the curtains pulls wide open, and two of Carrasco’s three performers are found at the periphery of the stage, engaging in a slo-mo, magnetic mirroring twist and jive, there’s something distinctively Robert Palmer-like 80’s casting over the scene as a sheer veil. I’m instantly thinking of the sensualism that icons like Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music and muse Jerry Hall brought to the table. When the curtains does open up, what ensues as ”the velvet” movements disentegrate into hard beats, is a solo delivery by Riccardo Zandoná, where he calls upon the spirit of the roster of grand James Brown league peformers. Big swaying sideways arms; salsa allusions. It’s Ricky Martin, Maria Maria era, and it’s sexy as hell, so sexy you could imagine the same display, but less…conservatively clothed, but it is the lack of visual gratuity and the discrepancy of the being dressed to the nines that spikes up the titillation factor. In terms of optics; Martin Scorsese’s 40 years old and upon its release, box office failure, The King of Comedy comes to mind. It might not be obvious, but from one likely cinephile such as Carrasco to another; me, it will be. ”Comedy” is apt; Carrasco is never afraid to play with funky banality or cross that border towards pedestrian moves with her troupe. You get the sense that nothing would ever limit her from leaping between Riverdance to boyband formations moves, if that was her heart’s desire.


Mari Carrasco, Burn baby burn, performers: Carla Mardones Ekberg, Riccardo Zandoná and Jennifer Wallén. Photo: Thomas Zamolo. Courtesy of Dansens Hus


From a curator’s eye, from Carrasco’s last output with Dansens Hus, The Heart to Burn baby burn, she seemingly exhibits some kinship with the Belge spatial installation artist Guillaume Bijl. There’s something quite interesting about the balance between the density of the visual intake of her set and the sparsity between bodies and that set, that creates tension that disrupts the intimacy and voyeurism that normally factors contemporary dance and instead evokes a whiff of "the last life in the universe", or last "cry" in the universe. On that note, how can you not not think of Felix Gonzalez Torres’ sublime epic gogo-dancing platform performance, alluding to the AIDS epidemic of the 80s, while in n the audience? At least if you are an art aficionado you will. Summa summarum, this is great. This is really grand. This is almost flawless, except for the ending where arguably an Icarus situation happens of doing the full leap into Elvis, love me tender, love me sweet modus. For a second I’m thinking; is she really going there? Like, really? It feels overly calculated, like the computing went a bit overboard, but then again the title is Burn baby burn, and Carrasco appears a smart artist, so perhaps she very intentionally actually went for Icarus reach/decleration in the end. It’s a risk. A commendable move from someone of her position and stature in the field. The moment I’m up on my feet for the standing ovation (I'm among the first to do so), I envy everyone who has still to see it. I speak to my people about how Carrasco must be among those trailblazers changing, or perhaps shaking up the game. Her piece stands in stark contrast to most of everything I’ve seen lately. I might just cancel other plans this weekend to see it again. In reality, I’m wrapped, and 75 % chance won’t, but the urge and transient intent is already telling enough for me. I don’t know if I’ve ever thought such thought with contemporary dance, ever before. I have with contemporary art, but not dance.


Ashik Zaman


Performers: Carla Mardones Ekberg, Riccardo Zandoná and Jennifer Wallén Set design and costume: Jenny Nordberg

Music: Mikael Karlsson

Lighting: Mira Svanberg


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