Three women dance through the changing phases of love.
Written by Adeline Loh
Photo by Kuang Jingkai.
Real Love, by Polish Dance Company Zawirowania Dance Theatre, is a dance with an emotional core we will all recognise. Choreographed by David Aberu and performed by three women of different ages, Real Love explores love through a very specific lens – the relationship between mother and child – through a series of vignettes from birth to adulthood, adulthood to motherhood, old age to death.
Few relationships are as intimate the one we have with our mothers. Through its rich symbolism, Real Love brings us through changing emotional landscapes – from a woman’s struggle to embrace motherhood, the delicate dance between attachment and independence, to the poignancy of saying goodbye to a loved one.
Photo by Kuang Jingkai.
In the opening scene, we see Elwira Piorum, a 58-year-old dancer, in a glamorous golden dress. She reclines on a table as she tells us about the ‘cruelty’ of birth. “I do not think about the child. I think about the pain…” she says, “I have to survive! The body is bared, ugly, defenceless.” Her polished image is at the odds with the primal process of birth underway. At the far end, Iza Prokopek plays the fetus in utero, writhing, twisting and curling. While still an unborn life, Iza’s contorted gestures suggest an intimate link to her mother’s turmoil.
These visceral images form the richly layered scenes of Real Love. What is so compelling about Real Love is the way it reveals the innate theatrical potential of the body. Throughout the performance, the dancers continue to embody life stages and changing relationships in a way you understand almost by instinct.
In one sequence, the three dancers rest delicately on each other, their tangled limbs an expression of the vulnerability and interdependency through childhood. Against a thumping soundtrack, the relationship dynamics shift, as each dancer embarks on their own independent, frenetic dance. In another sequence, Ilona Gumowska and Iza’s synchronised routine reveals their innate connection, while Elwira’s solo performance powerfully evoke her search for her individuality apart from her role as a mother.
But it’s the final sequence that will remain etched in your mind, far after the curtains falls. As Ilona and Iza lay two white swaths of cloth on the ground, Elwira lies delicately, half-naked, on a branch-like object. Her body freezes; death approaches. In the background, a projected image of a white dove suggests the ascension of her soul. The two younger dancers tenderly cleanse and cover Elwira’s body in gold dust, before wrapping her up in cloth for her final journey. It’s a poignant and fitting image – one that reminds us that real love never forgets separation, that death and love will always remain the most human of couples.