The music is tender but Man to Monk- Part 1 is about male desire described through the lens of a homosexual relationship as a duet. This piece is the first show in a new two-part contemporary dance series.
In the Lilian Bayliss Studio of Sadler’s Wells bharatanatyam and contemporary dance artist Mavin Khoo is joined by Victor Callens in the show that is an extended pas de deux choreographed by the artistic director of DeNada Dance Theatre, Carlos Pons Guerra. The very different physical qualities of the two men are fully employed on stage, that Khoo is small and delicate, Callens long and strong are used to describe a linked perspective of vulnerability and power at first. The dance progresses, using a range of contemporary and balletic movements, to twist expectations so that emotional frames of mind are revealed beyond the conventions of immediate physicality.
Khoo has said they all felt they could bring something new to the perspective of male desire by representing it in a homosexual relationship.
It is true the conventional heterosexual dance set up of a fragile woman with a strong and handsome prince fails to describe the reality of relationships and intimacy, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Pas de deux are likely to be most interesting for those who enjoy conventional dance when they reflect through visual metaphor the complexities of relationships we know not the old fairytales.
Desire is more complicated than a pursuit and surrender and the choreography here describes that. Power shifts and shifts again. This piece is most moving when describing male vulnerability, not strength. When the two male dancers take it in turns to cling to one another describing weakness and need in the male in intimacy.
Relationship violence between two lovers not separated by the context of heterosexual gender describes it on stage as it is, a characteristic of dysfunctional intimacy. It’s not romantic and it’s not inevitable between two people who yearn for one another. Desire should not end this way and this aspect presented a problematic disconnect between subject and presentation because this work is beautiful in all aspects of its movement and execution.
Review by Marian Kennedy
In the first of a two piece series, the bharatanatyam and contemporary dance artist Mavin Khoo is joined by Victor Callens in a male duet which charts the trials and devotions experienced on the journey between base human emotion and spiritual transcendence.
This exploration of lust is choreographed by the artistic director of DeNada Dance Theatre, Carlos Pons Guerra, whose Hispanic take on Beauty and the Beast was performed in the Lilian Baylis Studio in Spring 2018.
Mavin Khoo — Man to Monk
29 & 30 Nov 2018
Lilian Baylis Studio
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R