Marie Chouinard's sexually charged debut programme sees dancers locked up like zoo animals then unleashed, while Vladimir Putin is taunted with whips – and made to dance with a Nubian Queen
A naked woman punches her body repeatedly against a wall, her expression hidden by the dark fall of hair covering her face. A pale, serious youth dances a solitary path through a crowd of onlookers, his limbs floating, warping and buckling to low-level electronic music. A middle-aged man in a knitted cap and lifeguard's jacket sweeps the floor, talking all the while about the urge to cleanse his life.
There is nothing new about visual art that blurs into performance, or dance that verges on installation, but at Venice this year the question of categories feels interestingly loaded. Daina Ashbee‘s Unrelated and Benoît Lachambre's Lifeguard are the first and third events described above, yet while they feature in the programme that has been put together by the dance biennale's new artistic director, Marie Chouinard, neither work embraces traditional modes of choreography. The dreamy street-dance solo, meanwhile, comes from Anne Imhof's Faust, a five-hour event that is drawing the largest crowds at the art biennale and whose language is heavily predicated on dance.