Participants' reflections on 19 Sept
There is a Question – What About the Reasons to Perform?
There are moments, when the first questions which come to the viewer´s mind are: what are the reasons to show this piece? Is this performance an exchange or just a space for presentation? Does the choreographer invite the audience into the piece? When such questions appear, it seems significant. The decision on how to communicate with the viewer depends on the dancer/choreographer. The audience can only reply and only then can it begin to be a partner. Sometimes viewers can feel invited to an open dialog, or, unfortunately – they just try to follow. This is related especially to personal, deep topics with a lot of intimacy related directly to the artist. It is sometimes visible on the stage that a piece has been created in isolation, and it can cause a doubtful effect. The viewer can feel lack of communication, and can in the end feel like finally like a peeper. The initial question can be trivial, but the first aim or impulse for performance creation is the foundation – whether strong or random. All the rest is consequence.
It’s All About Energy
My very first time in Budapest made a great impression on me: there is plenty of beautiful monuments, kind people, cultural events: festivals, concerts, exhibitions… All this together makes me feel that the city is full of positive energy.
I have also observed such energy in some theatre and dance performances. A performance can be very simple yet alive with energy, cumulated somewhere between performers and audience. And when it spreads into the viewers, I feel that the audience is needed, that it plays an important part of the performance.
That is exactly how I felt watching Jinx 103. I felt the happiness of playing with Hungarian folk dances, I saw the satisfaction of playing with an audience. Even when Gábor Varga and József Trefeli separated the place of their action from the audience sitting in the round arena directly on stage with red and white tape, it was only illusory isolation. There was no wall between them and us – the viewers. We were all participants of this event, this energy-exchange.
Cie József Trefeli: Jinx 103
The first evening of the festival had three parts. Between two very intimate and personal solos, both performed by women, there was a duet by two men, József Trefeli and Gábor Varga. This performance represented a totally different kind of energy and was more focused on the audience than the other pieces. Its performers really tried to get us all to tune us in onto the same wavelength.
This unusual performance is totally imbued with male energy. In the first part the dancers create“constructions“ out of tape and walk around inside the ring they have created with it in clear, straight ways. For me this represented the male way of thinking – without any ornaments, unnecessary divergences or supplements. The second part, when the performers dance the folk dance with their own style of reproduction, looks like a battle, such as when men kick a ball, competing to see who can kick it more times. Even so they were always working as a team, and the enthusiasm of their cooperation was very contagious.
Well, where to start?
Christine Borch smiled only when she finished. To give her performance rhythm and music, she uses her breath. The pain she causes herself by this experimentation with breath made her strongly perceivable on the stage. A transformative power takes over her body and her intimate investigation is reflected on her face. We do not see her beautiful, sharp smile until the end, when the audience applauds. All the energy and inner depth collected during the performance is shown again, shining upon the public for one last time, for a short moment.
József Trefeli and Gábor Varga had tiny, slightly noticeable smiles at the beginning (although perhaps it’s only me who made an unconscious connection between the nursery rhyme they were speaking and smiling). Later, through the joy of the rhythm and their dynamic dance they reached a frank, liberating smile. Their verve was captivating, their smile infectious. They combine folk and urban, electric motifs in an original and simple way. The audience’s smiles transformed into a modest laugh at the end as the performers played with the rhythm of their own gasping for breath, a choreographed piece of reality.
Lea Švejdová’s smile looks like the smile of a young child. Her nose becomes pointed and curious, her eyes small and glittering, her cheeks ruddy. I could not see this until she was talking about her work – during the performance the cast of her features was softly hidden, the light and shadow allowed the suggestion of it. Then, sitting and listening to her during the open discussion everything became clear: the four month old baby, living right now in her belly was reflected on her face – and so I could see not only the sand and the woman, but something more.
“I like to watch.” (Channcey Gardner) - 1st festival night
Before impressions sediment into something attempting to be a review, I´d like to give them freedom to drift around a bit, colliding with the rest of the triggered associations and questions. This text might come to its full potential only if read by the spectators who witnessed yesterday´s performances. In case it comes in handy as something else as originally intended, please be so kind to inform me about it or comment below.
1) PAIN MAKES YOU PRESENT
She said it herself in the after talk, explaining her work to be more somatic practice-based than anything else. Christine Borch is therefore not a codified dancer in her own opinion.
Saying that my impression of her performance “Body that Comes”, as a good one of that type, just made me realize the narrow span of use of the word code.
She made me present, without pain. What have I experienced? I don´t know, but I was concentrated while doing it. And that shed more light and mercy on one of her statements that the audience can somehow experience what she is doing. Is paying attention to something (spectator focusing on a performance) experiencing that thing or is it supporting someone else´s experience (performer´s performance)? As a matter of fact, does any internal “happening” while watching a performance count for an experience?
I have seen interesting images yesterday. They had a life of their own. They were there for the viewer, yet didn´t wait helplessly to be consumed. Sometimes I think I could do without them. Viewers are creative as well; not seeing an idea being realized, doesn´t mean I can´t imagine it. Do I need to see so many, so much, every single variation? Somehow I still enter a theater with a hope to get the yet unseen.
I saw messy states and clear forms. It reminded me I go to dance performances to see how others experience.
2) Inspired by “Jinx 103”
Rhythm disarms. One has to give in if one is to be taken further.
Such performances are made all over, but since performances don´t get around much these days and have a short life-span, it´s actually helpful to have them done in different parts of the world at different times. It´s somewhat like teaching your kid that “The Doors” existed. No, no, it´s like telling him or her about “noise music”. It is something we, as a human race, have done, went through, maybe still going. Among other things. Recognized it as a “…category consisting of multiple discrete genres of music that have employed noise as a musical resource”. We´ve been there, marked the spot on the evolution of human curiosity. Or speaking in dance terms, in the evolution of dance; improvisational score for example is something that is explored, done, applied, recognized, practiced and supporting other phenomena to be researched within it. It is not new, yet the value of a performance is not merely in its innovative approach but perhaps in a quality of approaching a known subject.
I may as well be saying nonsense but following this intuitive grip on educational purposes, I´d say music mostly attempts to be good, not something yet unheard off. Innovation as a predominating imperative, function even seems to be more present in the field of performance arts than elsewhere.
3) My very personal questions (about a book I have never read)
Why do I come if I am then so easily ready to detach? How was this festival curated? Were factors like time, economy, etc. the determining ones in creating the order of performances and their selection in the first place? Is it useful to ask questions with an obvious answer? Is it obvious, is it latent or is it just not constructive to acknowledge it?
Why am I watching this woman suffering? Why am I watching her watching herself suffering? Why am I watching her being prosecuted by a guy that is running around with a light? Why am I watching her putting on clothes? Why does she need new clothes? Where is she, if I am not with her? Is it about me? What did her text say about the performance? What is my text saying about the performance? Who is demanding who´s presence? How do artists think about the viewer when they make what they make? How do I think about the artists when I write what I write?
What is transforming? Why do I expect that?
What happens when western concept of theater is not catching up with itself?
I have seen a contemporary dance performance recently that promoted itself as a conceptual piece. I felt like an old fart not liking it, missing dance in it. Then I saw dance yesterday, inspired by a book and I think how nice it would be if performers would actually use their bodies. I realize I always avoid the same questions, because they seem too basic. Or maybe it just isn´t constructive to be asking what dance is?
Re-defining is a messy business.
The summary of Zita Sándor (HU) about the first day's performances on Ellenfény online (in Hungarian) here.