Performance Review: We sure felt the heat in this apocalyptic tour-de-force of dance


Raw energy, emotion and entropy run wild in Mute Comp Physical Theatre’s newest endeavor, ‘Sleeping With the Lights On’, an unforgettable piece performed and choreographed in a collaboration between Denmark’s Kasper Ravnhøj and Norway’s Stian Danielsen at Nørrebro’s Dansekapellet.

Prepare to meet your maker
“This may be the last thing you will ever see … with this dance, we will simply kill you all.” Intriguing words to open a performance with, no? Enough to create a tense apprehensive vibe in the gathered audience, which was exactly what Ravnhøj had in mind as he invited the audience to watch the duo’s venture.

Inspired by 19th century physicist Lord Kelvin’s thermodynamic theory that predicts the imminent heat death of the universe via the energy produced by humans, the two dancers have created an “intense ritual that attempts to bring the world closer to its ultimate fate”, constructing an Armageddon-esque tour-de-force of dance.

A rollercoaster of emotions
Clad in a curious amalgam of cargo neutrals decorated with colourful feathers, fringe and Hawaiian lei flowers, the barefooted dancers proceeded to take the audience on a steadily rising trip of energy, rollercoasting through peaks and valleys of high and low emotion.

Truly, the overwhelming beauty in the piece was shown through intense chemistry between the two dancers. Their physical dialogue created a back-and-forth exchange that captivated the audience, producing a palpable heat that spread throughout the crowd. The two bodies entangle and argue, embrace and seek a friend in one another as they play with gorgeously executed contact improv.

Still here, but a valiant effort
You’d think the two dancers would have passed out from an hour of nonstop motion. Following a zenith of deafening music, frantic movements and hyperventilation, the lights are dimmed to black and we’re left in the jarring silence of darkness to ponder our thoughts. Were they stealing each other’s energy or using each other’s power to create more energy?

We can, however, confidently report the universe hasn’t ended quite yet.