8: Metamorphosis is an impressive dance opera about the patriarchal structure that refuses to budge

"Impressive is the descending grid of light, which holds the dancers captive."

The drum kit is having a hard time. Even before the start of 8: Metamorphosis Frank Rosaly thrashes his instrument with forks, feet, bells and nails. An insane energy breaks loose from the fanatical percussion. The drum set holds it half way. Then the attack becomes too ferocious; it loses its structure under the pull of eight performers (seven dancers cum singers, plus the drummer who also moves and sings). That is exactly the intention of this impressive dance opera, for which choreographer Nicole Beutler and composer Gary Shepherd were inspired by the famous work of graphic artist M.C. Escher, Ovid's Metamorphoses and The Cold Song from Henry Purcell's opera King Arthur. Those who want to change must dare to break, those who want to deform must thaw structures.

Seven dancers come up, tight in suits, seven shades of gray. They move in rectilinear patterns, differences appear by phasing: lying down, rolling, stepping, bending. When Rosaly joins them, they slowly build on the (manipulated) staccato sounds of The Cold Song with beautifully polyphonic utterances. In the libretto, a winter spirit refuses to thaw to make way for spring. In this dance opera it is the patriarchal structure that refuses to soften. Impressive is the descending grid of light, which spreads over the dancers like an Escher work brought to life and holds them captive. As with Escher's shifting black-white-grey patterns, the repeating simplicity does its enchanting work; lighting designer Minna Tiikkainen illuminates the grid (moving racks from which pieces of scenery are lifted) from the roof. The audience is on stage, as are the performers. Then comes the transformation. The suits go out. Variegated souls creep out. Water vapor rises. We look into an empty room. That emptiness frightens and encourages: space for something new. A stumbling polar bear dares to sleep peacefully. We can change, if we want and dare. Just like these makers.

uit: De Volkskrant, Annette Embrechts, 26 mei 2019