Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Chapter 175: Jair Ramirez' Sugarman

All photo credits: Lidia Crisafulli

Resolution at The Place is a contemporary dance festival, now in its 27th year, that showcases short pieces of around twenty minutes long, experimenting with form and pushing boundaries. A great platform then for artists fusing contemporary circus and dance in their performance. 

I went on Thursday to see Jair Ramirez' Sugarman, a piece in which he grapples with the claustrophobia of everyday urban working life and overcomes stumbling blocks in his path in his own inimitable style. Sugarman has evolved from Rise Above (click here), presented at Jacksons Lane Hangwire last year, where Jair emerged from a culture of rubbish and addiction in his native Colombia, set to the theme tune from Narcos, while the year before Jair won the prestigious Circus Maximus contest for circus talent with an act  (click here) where he spun out of a floor of powder to soar to new heights. 

The name Sugarman refers to any addiction, whether it be coke, alcohol, cigarettes or the killer sugar, used to escape the daily grind. For Sugarman, Jair's outside eye was Lucho Guzman, a Colombian clown, also one of the Clowns Without Borders (click here), who was in the UK for the book launch of Barnaby King's Clowning as Social Performance in Colombia: Ridicule and Resistance (click here), in which he features. I should therefore not have been surprised to see Jair's natural clown at play in this latest incarnation. But I was surprised. And delighted. 

The stage was set with Ali Hunter's atmospheric lighting and a swathe of dry ice that conjured up a metropolis, while the Latin melody located it firmly in Colombia. In walked the Sugarman in a dressing-gown, brushing his teeth, with rebel feet that just wanted to salsa on out. But he is prisoner of a murky grey world, longing for the blue skies of Aldo Zolev's superb track Azul (see below), a puppet of routine like the suit that hangs there waiting for him. 

I loved the acrobatics that played on that and brought the suit to life, the hands that became feet, the legs that became arms, the briefcase that opened up into a typewriter, and the loop of a strap that was both tie and potential gallows' noose. Arresting images were threaded through with a wonderful humour, involving the audience at one point in an amusing fort da game with an apple, and blended with supreme aerial skills. The beautiful air walking was a lesson in surreal control, as was the siesta snatching, simply suspended by a neck, an ankle and sheer force of will. It was as though each time an obstacle presented itself, Jair's dexterity and innovation on the straps enabled him to circumnavigate it, so that by the end of the day, when the wheel had come full circle (all too quickly for me!) and the Sugarman was back in his dressing-gown, toothbrush in hand, he was no longer hostage to the norm, but triumphant. 

Jair Ramirez' Sugarman was presented by Jacksons Lane at The Place as part of Resolution 2017.

Music video for Aldo Zolev's Azul:

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