Current Obsession: Designer Iris Van Herpen Collabs w/ the Dutch National Ballet on ‘Biomimicry’

As this terrible year comes to a close with a worldwide surge in coronavirus cases, and threats (however ridiculous they may be) of an American presidential coup, all we really want is to find some beauty in the world around us. Which is why we find ourselves getting gloriously lost in the stunning new collaboration between Amsterdam fashion designer Iris Van Herpen, and the Dutch National Ballet.

The surely ideologically conjured title of the piece is Biomimicry, which word refers to an ongoing series of strategies for confronting real world problems by seeking solutions based on biological processes. In its ultimate intentions, it hopes to spark innovation by drawing on the Earth’s most primal elucidations (there’s even a Biomimicry Institute in Montana).

Hardly surprisingly, the finished work (directed by Ryan McDaniels) conveys something pithy yet enigmatic about humanity’s relationship with nature itself. And against a backdrop of voluptuous desert sands, dancer Jingjing Mao – who was born in China, but has been with The Netherlands’ most prominent dance company since 2010 – ethereally interprets the essential/primordial connection between all living things, and the science which seeks to explicate that relationship.

The music is by Thijs de Vlieger – of Groningen based electronic trio Noisia – and South Korean harpist Lavinia Meijer, who was played to rapt international audiences, and notably collab’d with Phillip Glass. Their strikingly visceral composition is rife with elegance, tension and a breathtaking sense of movement and motion. Fittingly the dance itself was actually guided by Juanjo Arqués, who acted as its Director of Movement – what surely must be a coveted title in the world of dance.

Not created in a vacuum, mind, the film does refer directly and also more equivocally to Ms. Van Herpen’s actual design philosophy – which draws distinctly on air, water and earth elements. But Biomimicry makes its considerable point both in and out of that context.

Prepare to be obsessed.

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