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Bread and Games

Dean Damjanovski

Violence and demonstration of masculine strength are inseparable part of entertainment. Since the time of the Roman gladiators and Japanese sumo-wrestlers till the American WWF the pleasure that the spectator gets from the clash of raw force on stage is a sensation that can not be compared to anything else. The protagonists Pieter Ampe and Guillherme Garrido in their “physical drama” titled Still Standing You offer themselves and their bodies for audience’s entertainment. Since the very beginning we see them on the full lit stage in a strange position – one of them lying on the floor with his feet straight up and the other sits on his soles. After establishing contact with the audience they say “Now we will perform our contemporary dance” as if they are saying “let the games begin”.

What follows in this almost one-hour conflict is a montage of sequences filled with brutality and roughness that are pushed to the boundaries of the bizarre representation of violence. Both bodies are in constant physical clash from reasons that we are not aware of, but we certainly can see the goal. It is a “game” on life and death in which there are is no second place and everything is allowed – from pushing, kicking, biting, screaming, to hitting each other with leather belts on bare skin and other obscenities, which, for understandable reasons can not be described here.

The audience gets more excited with each new “invention” of the performers. With every new step, with every new pain they inflict upon each other their reactions become louder and more tempestuous. What will they come up with next? As the clash continues we become aware that this is not at all a performance on which the regulations for good taste, propriety and aesthetics can be applied. It is the performance of the Arena where there is no limits to the hurt that one human being can make to another one. Of course, everything is for the entertainment of the audience.

At the end of the fight both gladiators, exhausted, sweaty and scarred take a bow to the cheering “crowd”. Their theatre has reached its goal – the audience is satisfied and they are still alive – until the next fight, until the next performance, until the next crowd … because, obviously, violence is needed even in the contemporary dance.

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