From the ape-like gait to the human jogging mania

From the ape-like gait to the human jogging mania

Elisabeth Ritonja

Foto: (Julia Kampichler )


September 2023

Aleksandar Acev shows in his performance "Lucy was not long ago" that our repertoire of movements is not only anthropologically well comprehensible. He also makes clear that we express our feelings with our body at every moment. Whether we want it or not.

Man moves and fights against gravity from his first days to his last. This is one of the core statements of Aleksandar Acev, who was invited by wortwiege to the casemates of Wiener Neustadt. As part of the festival “Europa in Szene”, in the special “Sea change” edition, he rocked the hall with his production “Lucy was not long ago”.

Acev is a “body language teacher,” author, director as well as a university lecturer at various European universities, where he imparts his knowledge to acting students. Moving on stage and finding the right expression for the character and the situation is one thing. Observing people in everyday life and analyzing their emotional state or even their character in a few moments – this is also possible with Acev’s Bodylanguage knowledge. Both mediation approaches are thematized in his performance – however not theoretically dry, but made visible with his grandiose use of the body.

C Julia Kampichler Lucy was not long ago ASC 0069

Lucy was not long ago (Photo: Julia Kampichler)

Lucy the monkey is considered one of those ancestors of man who practiced the upright gait and thus established our way of life on two legs instead of four. Acev approaches this topic with a great deal of knowledge, body awareness and a large dose of humor, and delighted audiences across all ages with his story of animal and human movement history.

His brilliant show ranged from an easy introduction, the explanation and pointing out of many possible human gaits to four grandiosely performed, different shoulder looks and the resulting different forms of expression. With Lucy on one side of the stage and Scully – a miniature human skeleton – on the other side, he had brought two artificial antipodes to him, which he filled with life.

Particularly entertaining was the part in which he demonstrated his observations of jogging people: he juxtaposed one type, characterized by its looseness and bouncing gait, with another who, with his upper body bent backwards, seemed to be stuck in his past. Still others, who rush headlong into the future, without ifs and buts, or those who, bent with grief, nevertheless set off on the run – all of them and many more were alternately imitated by Acev almost every second. In the process, the performer juggled words just as well to accompany his performance.

The different ways of greeting, submissive, deprecating, fearful or hopeful triggered just as cheerful moods as the references to the direct Lucy kinship in the field of male sports greats. The tennis player Djokovic beating his chest with a clenched fist, the famous, unforgettable headbutt of the soccer player Zinédine Zidane – against the Italian Materazzi at the World Cup – or the wide-legged goal celebration of his colleague Ronaldo: all these short and yet so striking movements, demonstrated by the mime, made it clear that Lucy and her kind cannot have been extinct for so long. The evolution of man’s fusion with his chair – this was another theme that served as an eye-opener for one’s own movement patterns. Who hasn’t lounged at the office chair without energy on several occasions, who hasn’t had the feeling of being fused with his keyboard, and who hasn’t felt prompted to expose his body to sporting activities more often?

Probably the most amazing thing about Acev’s performance is the realization that with this kind of “edutainment” you can gain knowledge in a short time that you wouldn’t get by reading books for hours on end. And it does so in a highly enjoyable way. All who have seen “Lucy was not long ago” have been given a new observational insensitivity by the artist at the bottom. What a great side-effect, triggered by a theatrical event as part of the wortwiege festival.

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