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Image by Forest Simon

Pokon: An Unstoppable Game of Growth

About the Program:

Presented by De Dansers from the Netherlands.

 

Three performers storm the stage whirling, twirling, hiccupping, tumbling, and singing. Dutch dance company De Dansers presents this mesmerizing performance full of movement, rhythm, fantasy, and friendship for children and grown-ups who can’t keep still. As the performers give themselves permission to run, climb, and get dirty, anything—from a ladder, to a guitar, to plants—becomes something to joyfully play on. Are you ready to get involved with the performers and explore movement in your own home?

Music & Movement

The performers call Pokon (pronounced POH-con) a “whirling, twirling, hiccupping, tumbling, rumbling, and singing stream of playful necessity.” That’s important—because not only is play necessary—it’s also natural. It helps you to imagine. And to grow. Think about the games you've played with friends and family. What makes you excited about these activities?

Play is also a way of learning boundaries. The performers explore these limits and take risks as they dance, perform acrobatic feats, and interact with everyday objects including ladders, wooden sticks, and branches, among others. You’ll also hear instrumental and vocal music. Listen for repetition of the melodies created by guitar, harmonica, drums, and voice. Prepare to witness a super-charged game of playful pretend.

Props & Effects

The performers look at simple objects and—with the help of their imaginations—find new ways to use them. For example:

 

A small tree begins the show standing still on stage, as you might expect. But, soon, it also…

  • sways in the wind,

  • provides a branch with leaves to serve as a broom, and

  • drops leaves that a performer can pretend to eat.

 

A ladder provides rungs (steps) to climb, which is what ladders typically do! It also…

  • balances on the back of a crawling performer;

  • becomes a prop, along with additional ladders, for performers to use when moving their bodies creatively; and

  • traps a performer's body, forcing her to ask audience members to help her escape.

Observe how a few ordinary props provide power. A performer holding a branch can use it to interrupt a singer’s performance. A pole mysteriously cures hiccups, but only for the person touching it.

After the video, play around with your own props. Select a simple object—a tissue box, spoon, or stool, for example—and see what meaning you can give it.

What to Watch & Listen for

Watch how scenes from the performance are merged with scenes from backstage, where choreographer Josephine van Rheenen gives the performers directions and invites you to experience her creative process. She explains what happens in a scene and how she creates a dance piece with a ladder or a stick.

Watch how the dancers use each other’s bodies by acting as a counterweight, a source of balance, or, perhaps, as an obstacle.

Listen to and watch the ways weather (wind, rain, snow) are imagined and interpreted throughout the performance. What kinds of natural phenomena would you like to act out on stage?

Listen and watch for forms of repetition. How do repeated rhythms and movements enhance the performance? How do simple choices that dancers make early in scenes complicate their movements and their interactions with props as the scenes develop?

What to Think About

Reflect on how taking risks in a play environment helps us to learn and grow. Through pretend play, we can experiment with situations that could test us in real life. How would you react if you were physically (or emotionally) stuck? That’s the situation Noëmi finds herself in when she is trapped in the ladder. How did she solve her problem?

Listen to the way Pokon’s instrumental music, voice, rhythm, and movement continue without interruption. When one tune ends, a new beat immediately begins. The same is true for their movements. Where else have you seen constant activity? Consider performance, play, and nature—the ocean, wind, life itself.

Think about the show’s subtitle: An Unstoppable Game of Growth. How does “growth” apply to the characters’ movements, their use of props and set pieces, and their character development? Not all growth is obvious on the outside. If you were to tell a story through your own dance performance, how might you express an idea such as growth? (Consider that “pokon” means plant fertilizer in Dutch.)

Try This on for Size

Do you feel inspired to create your own dance after watching this video? Then you should definitely try this at home: you can actually do many things you have seen in the video.

For example:

  • You can make your own idea book and write or draw all your ideas in the book and try them out.

  • In Pokon, you saw Stephan and Guy dancing with a small wooden stick. Maybe you can make your own stick dance with a pen, a broom, or something that you find outside.

  • Find three objects around your house that you really like. Create your own dance with the objects, moving over them, under them, around them... You can show your own dance to your family, a teacher, or friends so you have an audience for your choreography.

  • The show’s three performers rely on their muscles as they run, jump, and roll across the stage. This strength and trusting collaboration also helps them to support each other’s weight and rely on each other’s bodies to help them balance. Don't be afraid to get physical!

 

And most importantly, have fun!

Get Physical!

Pokon - De Dancers, The Netherlands

Choreography Josephine van Rheenen

Cast Stephan Bikker, Guy Corneille, Noemi Wagner

Composition Guy Corneille

Supported by Gemeente Utrecht, Fonds Podiumkunsten/ Dutch Performing Arts, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

 

 

ABOUT THE COMPANY
De Dansers is an Utrecht-based company of dancers and musicians, led by choreographer/dancer Josephine van Rheenen and composer/musician Guy Corneille. De Dansers creates “dance concerts”: organic meetings of modern dance and live music. Performances by De Dansers tell accessible, intuitively compelling stories about liberation and surrender, in which playful anarchism is never far away. They want to break free from what can make you feel stuck.

De Dansers wants to inspire physicality and a personal connection, especially in a society in which we increasingly live on screens. We do this by simply making contact and giving energy, in everything we do. De Dansers particularly believes in the value of dance at a young age, when your body is full of movement, it asks for running, jumping, touching. A time for your imagination to run wild. What you miss out as a child, you will not redo later. We make work that appeals to the liveliness of children and that re-invokes forgotten desires for surrender and physical contact in adults.

The group is expert in the first encounter with dance and creates productions for children/ families and for (young) adults that unjustly thought that dance was not for them. With over 130 performances a year, De Dansers reaches 18.800 visitors yearly. In Utrecht, nation-wide and international, in theaters, schools and (open air) festivals.

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