|photo: Márta Ladjánszki|
What does it mean, to be a MAKT student? Or, what does it mean, to be a MAKT student, occasionally? This is the question I can answer: during the L1danceFest 2013 a group of MAKT students came to Budapest and I had a great chance to join them, for some days.
It means there is a team of young university students (mostly from Poland, but also from Ukraine, Italy) interested in dance, doing performing arts related studies (most of them). They are not simply interested in contemporary dance, but – I dare to say – they are passionately interested in it. They do extra courses to have a theoretical basis, they’ve already seen many international dance performances, they already have dance critic related experiences, a "horizon", even though they are still at the beginning of something. On the top of this, they are welcoming; it was easy to join them as an outsider.
It means that there is a teacher-leader, Jadwiga Grabowska (Majewska)..., (as, or even more passionate than her students), with whom we discuss each of the performances seen during the festival. We don’t agree, we take our time to encounter different arguments and points of view, we discover patterns, metaphors, symbols and structures, possible meanings. Jadwiga helps us, leads us, and also takes part in the discussions. At some point she finds some time to present an important theory, a historical fact, phenomenon, or a pioneer (this time Anna Halprin).
It means chance to meet professionals. We passed two days in the company of Tomáš Morávek who was introducing us to the work of a light designer. We analyzed some performances with his assistance, and not only the stages but our mind became enlightened. Types of lights and design intentions turned to be clear or clearer.
It means being really tired but at the same time, enjoying this tiredness. We met and discussed from morning until the first performance of the day, trying to write some comments for the blog (with not a really big success this time) - without having a real, big break. But everyone was okay with it, we all wanted to profit from the occasion, that we are together. We tried to go to Jedermann in order to check the TranzDanz Jövőtánc series (which sounded a bit mysterious). We succeeded to go there once. We were the last ones leaving the place - still, discussing performances.
It means quite a lot to be a MAKT student, even if it’s only for some days.
MAKT session in Budapest
Mobile Academy of Dance Criticism is meetings of young people who write or want to write about dance. In Budapest it was third MAKT session – after Poznań and Lublin. I was at all the meetings and I think each is quite different – but we always have a lots of work and inspirational talks.
In this MAKT session were people from Hungary, Poland, Ukraine and Italy. It’s important that we can meet people from other countries who are also interested in dance, write about dance or are dancers. It’s important that we can talk to each other about dance in our countries. One day of our session we discussed about dance in Hungary, Poland and Ukraine. We talked about school for dancers, situations of dancers in our countries, most important place where dance evolve. We also watched fragments of video of performances – dance in our countries is really different, we have different forms and techniques.
In first and second day of our workshop we could meet with Tomáš Morávek – light designer who works with Márta Ladjánszki. Actually light is important element of performances.
It’s good that we could talk about light of festival performances. We had seen a lot of performances when lights was important but we didn’t know how to work light designer. We didn’t know also about technical possibilities. Tomáš helped us to understand this profession. We talked about meaning of lights in performances, about types of lights, colors, size. We analyzed scenes of performances where lights were used. In earlier MAKT session we met with different people – lecturers from Universities, critics and theorists. Theoretical knowledge is very important but also important were meetings with practices – not only dancers and choreographers. Meeting with Tomáš was inspiring because we pointed the attention to other elements in performance, not only movement.
Session in Budapest first of all gave us the opportunity to talk about watched performances – discussion the next day after seeing. We talked everyday. I think it’s very important because we can hear what other participants think about performances, what are their feelings and interpretations. Sometime after watching performances I have a doubt and I don’t know how to interpret some scene or movement. Discussion with other participants of MAKT gives me the opportunity to better understand the concept of artists. I can collate my feelings with feelings of other participants. After discussion it’s easier to write text about performance.
And the last work which we had to do – write text about performances. We divided the work – not all of us had to write about everything. We could choose performances and next write about it. It was very good experience because the texts are on the blog site and everybody can read it. It is dialogue with artists who can read interpretations of performances. If we want to be critics of dance we have to see performances and write about it – and this MAKT session was great exercise for this.
Why water and milk drops were showed on the front screen of the two projections at the beginning of the Invisible Reality? And why where they turned vertically? Why the choreographer used double video projection? Which one is the real dancer? The choreographer and live performer Catalina Carrasco or the performer in the video?
All these questions are too subjective to just answer them and accept it as fact. This is the beauty of our art, it gives the freedom for everyone to place the experience in her or his own life period. To solve problems, to find answers or to remember how petty-minded is to be lost in everyday problems when millions of emotions can be relived in this world, when time is running like a cheetah. That’s why Catalina’s partner Gaspar Morey who is responsible for the video and light design of the performance said in the frame of the open discussion after the show: „We don’t want to tell a story.”
Catalina starts and finishes with the beginning of a new life. A movement is always research of the body, which is endless, looking for new ways to express the thoughts of the soul. Between the live dancer Catalina Carrasco and the video dancer Susana Fuenmayor exists a special relationship. Catalina reflect to Susana, she follows her and understand her, sometimes left her, forget about their connection and go for her own way. She needs her as we need help in deep situations from a weird power, but in the same time she is strong and self-confident. Sometimes they are friends, sometimes they are the same person. Soul-mates with transparent bodies who need each other to be really visible.
Sometimes we are lost in images, like our mind in thoughts. We can see the tortuous brain of a woman, of our overloaded life rhythm. Everything is fast, no time to rethink and no time to value. Just go. Do it and fight. Nobody can help you, and nobody have to help you. You are alone in the dark, but your digital friend can help go over easier. Catalina’s dancing her own choreography is so real and honest. We can find sexuality and woman power in every movement and every breath. The power of giving a birth to a child. She is searching on the stage, looking for new challenges and ways to success like all of us. Every performance is different, like every evening when you can’t sleep because of combative problems in your mind or the elevating excitement of a new love. Never stop thinking. Just keep going to swim undercurrent like a fish, like Catalina.
All we have problems and fights, all we have emotions and so many desires, but just few of us can find a way how to manage them and success. To save your own inside world as a shelter and be able to believe sometimes that reality is invisible.
Echoes – fifth day of L1danceFest by Marta Seredyńska (Exercise for Choreography of Attention ‘Point of No Return’)
Dalija Aćin Thelander created a performance, which poses the questions about contemporary choreography. What is currently choreography? And the artist must be present on the stage during his performance? Author of Exercise for Choreography of Attention ‘Point of No Return’ created a vision and other action gave to the audience. Choreographer (or another person if it is absent) explains only to the audience rules of performance. Next the audience enters the room.
The room looks like raining room. The floor is white and on the wall hang mirrors. In the middle of the floor lies a few books. Each participant of the performance have to read one book. When participant finish reading, next person can read it. There isn’t limit of time.
Everybody can read as much as they want.
In the book I can find history of a girl and a wolf. I think that construction of this book is very good. It have storyline, pictures and stage directions, which have the tasks for participants of performance. Decision about how to read is taken individually.
Most of the audience read very carefully. Part of the audience only view – perhaps they are already tired. Part of the audience (who don’t read) lie on the floor, sleep or relax. In the middle of the room stands a chair. One woman sit on it and read in this position. Maybe this is most comfortable for her?
One man read the book and walk. He walk around the room and doesn’t stop. When he finish reading, he put the book on the floor – but he still walk. He watches pictures in this room and tries to play on the piano. He is very active and at the end he start dance. That is his small performance. He is main actor of this performance.
Performance will end when everybody finish read the book. Part of the audience, which finished reading, wait for other. Who will be the last? It is also performance – finish read the last.
In the book are exercises for the audience. But the audience only read, nothing more. Collective choreography didn’t formed in this evening. But each of us created choreography because choreography in this performance is every small movement which we perform. This is our choreography. But it was only exercise.
We are going to the room and we see two artist – man and woman. They are very friendly, welcome and smile for the audience. It is interactive performance and the audience is one part of them.
Both of artists – man and woman – have similar clothes. They are dressed in green shorts, pink shirts and sneakers. Shorts are very characteristic clothes for men and pink color is characteristic color for women. It is very interesting that the artists are dressed characteristic for both of sex – it is gender performance?
We sit down on the chairs which are arranged in a quadrat – in the middle are the artists and they begin their training. They perform a lot of energetic movements – fast walking and jumping. After they are tired and go out of the room. This is the end?
No, for short release they come back to the room. But they aren’t alone – they have a big cake. They sing at the same time: O my love, my darling… – very popular song. It is very beautiful scene and I think that they have very good voices. Next performer say that for us and we begin sharing of this cake. It is good surprise for us! In this time they train again.
When they are near for each other and they touch the lips (I though that they will kiss), they begin sing melody of Lady Gaga – Bad Romance. It is very funny scene. They sing and dance very near each other. It is very interesting scene and relationship of sound and movement.
In next scene artists give to us also coffee. It look like meeting friends. But performance still continues.
Interesting is scene when performers sit down on the floor, on colored material. It look like picnic. Performers show us different photos – for instance Yoko Ono, penguins, worms and Brangelina – join of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (in one person!). It is very loose talk with the audience about this photos – it is very good and interactive scene.
Next performer overlapping this material and we don’t see their – we see strange creature. But it is next interaction with the audience – artists touch us and put on us. It is very good experiment of humans touch.
In the end woman writes whipped cream on the floor two words – yes and no and paints the line between them. Maybe we should choose – it is good performance or not? I think everybody say: YES!
Circus on dance festival? Why not! Rapid Eye from Denmark extends the dance theater to the concept of the new circus and theater object. The main thing which connecting this different types of theater is the body. In Quiproquo one of the most important thing were a magic tricks, which weren`t use for win over audience`s sympathy but for extension choreography. This piece consists of small, separate stories, pictures which are sticked by magic tricks into a compositional whole.
Artists use the four requisites: bricks, metal ball, wooden sticks and two long bamboo sticks. These objects in their hands regain second life. They didn’t use them traditionally. Set in motion objects lengthened the duration of moves and made soften the transition between one image created by artist to the other.
A similar task served a music. Performed live by Sture Ericson on theremin, an electronic instrument whose sound was modulated by moving hands around one of the antennas. The music was improvised, followed the movements of the dancers. Composer using the sounds of "everyday" items created ready-made music. The song was amazing resilient, variable tempo and scale of the sound. Music served as a narrator describing sometimes more vividly than in reality. Sometimes movement of composer/performer (his funny hand-shaking movements, which create entirely new sounds) was even more interesting than the dancers. But together the trio created a well synchronized and complement each other.
Rapid Eye fights with stereotype of circus, which most of us have been encoded in our heads from childhood. A idea of contemporary circus presenting theatre from Denmark is based on storytelling. As I wrote before the whole piece consists of several stories, some funny, and some beautiful and melancholic. Scene engraved in my memory, was the moment when from wooden planks artists created a raft, and together sailed through the music played on the saxophone crafted. Feature of a contemporary
circus is also coming out of a circus tent. Spectacle "Quiproquo" was placed in the historic hall of The Castle Theatre from 18th century, which was finding very well, although in theory shouldn`t fit into it. The two actors resemble two handymen form of Czechoslovak cartoon Pat & Mat placed in this space seem even more comical. Lost, creating your own world in this strange place for themselves. Rapid eye convinced that the circus can be one of the arts. They cleared circus with gimmicks, which was the most common feature of old circus. They did not try to fake the audience, not trying to deceive them. They unintentionally bewitched audience by beautiful images, not forced comic and great music. You can really fall in love this performance.
Gunilla Heilborn in collaboration with the performers: Krstina Vilala, Johan Thelander
From the end// This is not a love story
During L1dancefest2013 we could experienced large palette of scenic possibilities and bodily researches. The one word is going to well sum up that event – diversity. So many different artistic ideas has been showed, so many new testes could be discovered, bodily experiments perceived.
Some formal dominate could totally changed dimension of show and perception by views. Body composed in white space, or two men in black space, every chosen stayed behind someone taste, expression and need. No definitive solutions. Somewhere between performance, plastic theatre, dance theatre, physical theatre, ritual; every of them were exploding body's medium, their weight, mobility, place in space and time.
When the stage disappear, the space is appeared. Someone personal imagination starts contact with us. I start to write like people who in past times, in XVII century has discovered as called Italian scene. Many of theatre lovers blamed that idea, for closing theatre for long time in box, for limits of men's mind, because of a gift of the world who was just full with illusion, and no place for ear, for some touch of open minding truth.
During show: This is not a love story, I had feelings nearly small girl who with so much excitations watching some fairy tales. In spite fact, I am not a small girl, and story is rather fairy direct to adult man.
So... not so long time ago...I have experienced noisy storm and a lot of white light. That was at the beginning. But before that at the stage by long time was standing huge slogan with irritating us message which was put in title of piece. Soon we will seen nothing more like story without happy end. No enormous power of love, no big heroes, maybe also at this time we will not find any broken hearts. Just simple story about two people who are just meeting. I was afraid that I meet naïve love story as many I have seen in my life.
But noise of storm return my thinkings to other point. My body was surprised and a little shocked in spite of conviction of imagined situation.
Story. Story about two people. About two world who starts being near and more near each other. They wants to be close but nothing with force. Force is in nature, only in that storm. Is force nature of love? Of course. Of course not.
I start here/ I start here/ I start here
There was a couple, dresses in big white flower designed on their black T-shirts. If they were together? They dancing together, but still cannot be unity. Unity is a big word. I am not so sure about it reel existence. But love likes requirement for such words. What I have found there is no idea of love, but trying to be close each other, to respect their different spaces, being together in some part of their life.
I start here. I start here.
I hear you. I feel you. May I can start here. Time at stage was concentrated and close us. Like human time, which dancers sharing with us; time was divided into small pieces, who decide about us. No big words, but small steps, movements, changes.
What is about a story who needs big words describing aspirations of one men, who wants to discover North Pole? History is changing for us twice. It depends on how is present. Our perception is changing when we see the small photo, and we listening the story of that men; also other things happening to us when artist use big photo of that men. Story always is far from us, but face's picture who is on huge size poster has other dimension, more distance, more valid and neutral in the same time.
Men's dreams has not come true. Now the discover of North Pole is known under the other name. Which one? If anyone cares who discovered that part of Earth? In one part of show the petite blonde women, with charming voice, asking us about question's value?
When we want to speak about love, very often we should speak about death. Many philosophers used to put these main human condition close to each other, at the same level, at the same line.
Big question, sweating people trying get to the life some kind od sens. Some of them could say: life has meaning in itself? Who has the right? Them? Our heroes do not answer for such questions. They just creating world in which every movement, rhythm, history has own value. Sometimes they brings each other, other time they dancing the same repertoire of movement. At their faces I could not see the difference when they were speaking about love or their death, which will come in short time because an accident. I have not felt sad, because also they were not sad. That was the life. And watching them with distance I accepted what there were giving to me.
I have found there a lot of poetry. Presence of performers also was very well constructed. I was feeling how easy they can come out and coming back to their character: concentartion and free passage between them.
Many things, also a lot os sense of humor, we could found in plots, rhythm, costumes, music, scenography and so seducing restraint of performer; love, humanity, hope, death, being together, the way of saying worlds.
I agree that piece we were watching like movie in atmosphere of scandinavian aesthetics. I was really calm and in so easy way I will say: I really enjoyed that show, every level seemed to be so well prepared.
It was on Sunday evening. So nothing strange that after show all festival's family has gathered in front of big table, with great foods, good wine, and no strict atmosphere.
What I really need to underline, as an deeply observer of Critics's group, curator of Festival Marta Ladjanszki, wanted to keep an artists for all festival. In fact almost them were staying in Budapest by since the end of event, attending for shows and also being important part of discussions which taking part after every spectacles.
In that way festivals like an idea of sharing the ideas of performances's creations, as also of viewer's perceptions, such possibility of being in the same time in atmosphere of art's curiosity, has very important meaning for participants and of course for art's researches.
|fotó: Vida Gusztáv|
One of the most strange and startling thing for a dancer is to see her/himself from outside, which is so dangerous, but constructive at the same time. Ricardo Machado, the original performer of the piece for the first time had the possibility to see his own build up movements converted to another body. As the non conceptual working method of the choreographer Karine Ponties, Ricardo’s visit wasn’t planned, just happened because of his current co-operation with Anna Réti in Budapest.
When the first weak light unfolded the masculine face, figure and slow, pure arm movements of the replacement dancer , I was falling into another world like Alice in Wonderland as a beginning of a rugged and exciting self-recognition journey. The reason of the amazing „life fight” full of jumps and falls doesn’t have to be determined. It allows all of us as free willed audience members to find the reason of the struggle in our current life period. The drag and in the same time supporting connection between the light and him (the only spot was attached to his body with a string) can be an unwanted ex-lover, a bad memory even as a hard decision. The pure, empty and dark stage was brilliantly equilibrating with the dynamic, special own technique based dance of . The opposite of the widely light, statuesque and in the same time considerably hard, physical movements kept the attention alive in every single minute. We could feel all the previous hard work and long research period in this approximately thirty minutes, as the dancer let us know after the performance, it was a big challenge to copy Ricardo’s movement, to transfer them to his own body. It helped him continue his solo work, to find something new and missing. At the end of the battle the tension reach an extremely high-level, he releases from the string and also his shirt so we can see his wheezy chest. The dramatic and fascinating music stop and the sound of the breathing makes the space divided between a really strong life in the only safe spotlight and the smell of death from the darkness of the rest part of the stage.
|Zsolt, Guillermo - photo: www.rolandszabo.cz|
Problem of II word war, and everything subject around, for example deportation or racial harassment isn`t so often present in dance theatre. I`m really content with that L1 danceFest gave us a chance to see The Wolf Project, which is raising this issues. The Wolf Project is collaboration Kenneth Flak (Norway) with Kűlli Roosna (Estonia). They performance was based on history Kűllis grandmother, who survive deportation to Syberia during II word war.
Scene was completely white and clean, associate atmosphere from laboratory or hospital. Color of the space was corresponded with costume of a men. He was a lieder. His movement, very expansive and really smooth commenced the performance. It was first such dancing performance at the festival and it were really pleasurable to watch so beautiful and plastic movements. But this nice picture was disturbed by a girl sitting on a chair with her head hidden in a dark sack and a hands holding on the back, like she were trammeled. When the lieder released her, started real hard training, resemble training of martial art. His orders was based on uttering words consisting only of vowels. We cannot see normal relation, like between master and apprentice. There is no accord or approximation, only the lieder’s need to maintain control, without victim`s conscious.
A construction of this piece strengthens context in witch personage are. Choreography is interwinded with a parts of the text. Victim is telling her story, about deportation to Syberia, in wagon for transporting animal, which survive only few people, including her. But still she isn`t in good situation, because doesn`t now where she is. She couldn`t find any answer to of her question. She is taming and manipulated very slowly. At first the lieder was using simple voice commends, later more and more difficult choreography, which she use to repeat.
Her face making semblance very softly and innocuous, so that`s why was so surprising when she kill him. She like kidnapping victim has Stockholm syndrome, doesn`t know how to manage in new situation. She is hugging him and laing down next to him. She tried to help him get up, as if she thought he was still alive. Finally seat him on the same chair, does it mean that now she will be lieder and he will be victim? We don`t know, because the final is open. In my opinion it is really possible.
The Choreography definitely referred to Stanford prison experiment. The history about deportation was only excuse. This performance was a tractate about simple reaction in situation of deprivation liberty. But is the means by which used a choreographer to tell this story was accurate? In my opinion, not really.
The choreography was very plastic, smooth and soft, which is not authentic for this story. They should focus on ugly movement, uncomfortable for artists and also for audience. not easy, and requires. My rating is a completely subjective. I'm not sure if many people would agree with me, given how well the show was received by the audience. To me it is difficult to assess whether this piece was good. Nevertheless, the enormous pleasure was in watching such a beautiful and precise choreography, as this composed by Kenneth Flak and Külli Roosna.
Fifteen minutes of fame may fleet fast, but the experience of the powerful fifteen-minute duet performed by Jasper Dzuki Jelen and Tami Joe Fisher is definitely going to stay with us for a long time. We were all holding our breaths during their captivating balancing act based on contact improvisation and resembling a unique circus act in its virtuosity and dramatic impact.
The performers used one, seemingly simple idea – one of them was laying on the ground, while the other was trying to move (upon) him without touching the ground – and explored this to the limits of humanly possible. They presented not only exceptional abilities and remarkable endurance, but also an astonishingly high level of awareness of their own and each others’ bodies and actions.
The two dancers were already present in the auditorium when the audience arrived and instinctively formed a circle around them, sitting on the ground. Instantly we found ourselves in the ambient of a tribal gathering, just the way our ancestors were sitting around the fire, celebrating, praying, telling stories or simply discussing everyday matters.
This very natural and ancient form of assembling gave us the feeling of being connected with each other, like being part of a group. At the same time we created a supportive, safe space for the dancers in the middle, literally encircling them with our presence and attention. Even the virtuosity and the fluency of their performance evoked the atmosphere of a tribal dance to demonstrate the power and the skills of two young warriors.
We could easily identify with them, and besides of our curiosity, we were also rooting for them, hoping that they accomplish their goal. The title of the performance may also refer to this feeling of unity, all of us being a part of the community. The phrase ‘no man is an island’ was coined by the English poet and cleric John Donne in the 15th century, expressing the Christian idea (also shared by Buddhism) that all humans are part of mankind, and no man can thrive without relying on others, just like Jasper and Tami proved us in their harmonic cooperation. Or, it could also suggest that the dancer on the ground is the island, surrounded by the tide of the ocean, whilst the other one is stranded on this island and has to struggle to survive on this tiny space and try to gain the most possible out of this challenge.
Tami was the one laying on the floor, with his eyes closed, aiding him in sharpening his senses and in focusing, and Jasper was pushing, pulling and rolling his body whilst he was atop of him. At first it seemed that Tami was rather passive, and as relaxed as if he was just ‘a dead body’, which can be pain-freely stepped or jumped on, and has to be moved with pure force. Although the audience was in constant awe and tension about how Jasper was balancing upon him and doing extremely demanding moves with him in an accelerating rhythm – even contradicting their differences in weight, height and body building –, it was equally fascinating how it slowly came to show that Tami was very much assisting him, responding to him, and gradually became more and more active in the process.
The minimalistic music they chose to accompany the performance didn’t distract the audience from their duet, but accentuated the timing of their moves and presented a light contrast to the heavy physical tasks they were performing.
The ever growing intensity and increasing pace of their actions built up a dramatic tension leading to a climax, the most daring jump for Jasper, like a salto mortale up to the shoulders of Tami, who was already rising from the ground. In that very moment Jasper lost his balance and touched the floor, for the first time. But that haven’t had the slightest influence on the excitement and the delight of the audience. They already won our utmost admiration, and on the other hand, this tiny bliss of imperfection only made them more likeable, more like one of us.
|Jasper, Márta, Tami - photo: www.rolandszabo.cz|
Two young girls staying in front of an audience. The stage is dark as high T – Shirts which they are wearing. In such symmetric composition they starts their hopefully personal discussions about being women.
Actions are performing simultaneously. At the beginning they are seducing us sitting on the chairs, in the same time enjoying their own space, equipped with two tables, and with some gadget on it. Surprisingly they are owners of quite similar staffs like: the orange, onion, the Christmas ball, the kitchen towel, the rattle. In one of them was also a small plant and a Mother of God. In the background we see male legs pretending to wearing paper, two dimensional pink high – heel shoes. Some kind of strangers is coming into the play, when both girls during putting the water into the bathtub, keeping big bottle of ones in way could imagined us urinates men. Artist's face expression seems to be pretty concentrated and determined. After that, water is colored in red by putting into some sweet juice. Some foreign languages are coming to our ears from recorder like: what women should be, at what I am? Artists starts to compose pieces of food at their solar plexux. From time to time food's compositions starts to growing up. All things from tables starts to exists in created woman's pregnancy, not excepting their high heel – shoes. In these actions I have found some grotesque not be convinced about their quality. I was asking myself what kind of answers about femininity artists seems to us suggest. Pregnancy turned into a burlesque costume, when both of artist their high heel shoes contained on line of their breast decorate with pink stars. The final is big consumption of such cultural heritage by other women who is eating something from her stomach also penetrating his interior.
The presentation being of women starts to be too typical patchwork of quotations, starting from headdress, poses, cooking, making faces, finished with female biology like menstruation, but also masturbation. Is small figure of Mother of God symbolises women' s imagine whose duties are: caring, protecting, feeding, upbringing? That is this idea of women from which artists want to escape?
Consumption's motives or talking role's by women, problem of their duties, manner of behaving, their biology nature, sexual needs were very alive in femininity art since 60' even until now, but in my opinion the issue moved by artist is showed definitely in too general and simplified way. About what women we are talking about. What kind of heritage is for us – women – to offensive in artist's point of view? The way served by duet scenic solution sometimes was funny, but did not convinced me.
The play begins in total darkness. The audience is plunged into darkness, there can’t be seen sitting next to the person, even the tip of your nose is out of sight. When the eyes slowly adjust to the darkness, we start to seeing a white blur. We can not be sure if it is an illusion, maybe your eyes from too much darkness make tricks with us? But do not. An image begins to give substance, but still did not take the expressive form. It is a game with our perception. It’s very pleasant because in the emerging very nice picture.
A stream of warm light flowing from a small reflector, which seems to be a makeshift, brings out the dark figure of a man. It outlines a clear space around it, which should give him a sense of security, because the rest of the area is plunged into darkness. This "island" of the light, however, is for him prison, from which he can not escape. He is connect to the reflector with a thin rope, so wherever he move it the light follows him.
The light stream is only apparent authority over Benedetto. Combining their rope, it is so delicate that it seems that each of his powerful movement will break it. But this isn’t the limitations for dancer to using the full range of its movement. The movement sometimes is very dynamic and aggressive, like a dog rebellion which is suspended on a chain that wants to break up, what juxtaposing quality links, make this situation a little bit comic. This could also suggest some association with Don Quixote fighting windmills.
For me, the leading association was another literary figure - Robinson Crusoe. Benedetto`s ragged clothing, beard with elements of gray hair, which is a sign of time passing, and his single “island” of light. Over the whole show we can observe an attempt to obtain their freedom. At the beginning when his character is born with an unspecified white blurs in the area, moving very slowly, quietly, as if trying to find himself in a situation which has been attributed to him is not his will. The time when we can watch the hilarious fight, a bit surreal considering the subject of what it takes. Performs some expansive attacking space jumps, tosses struggles, but only at the moment when he manages to get the peace of mind comes out of prison.
Intriguing is the smile that appears on his lips Benedetto at the end, facing the audience, after a desperate attempt to catch his breath, when freed from the bonds, introduces a discordant feelings and amusing confusion among the public. All you watched his fight was not in earnest, only pure play with the audience, the perception of each viewer and his imagination.
Benedetto Pacifico has so far been the warmest adopted a performance by the audience. Is very reassuring that it is enough to maintain the same dancer viewer's attention at the same high level throughout the duration of the show. You do not need built over the stage, or use tricks. Only need a good performer and choreography, which will giving the opportunity to choose the way of interpretation.
How often do you laugh? Everyday? For every minutes? Antonia Baehr means: “I like to laugh. Often laugh. People often see me laughing”. In her performance she laugh very often and makes that people laugh with her. How? Laugh is contagious.
Performance of Antonia Baehr has very measured construction. It has several parts. After each she stay in front of the audience and bow. After short verbal introduction we watching unusual concert. Performer look like musician in philharmonic and play a score composed of the sounds. Interesting is sound of laugh – how different is it. We hear different sounds – low and high, nervous and quiet. Laugh is the rhythm of this performance, forms its rate and dynamic.
In the next part she take a small ball and throw. When the ball hits the floor she laugh at a rate of the hitting. This relationship is intriguing – performer is like a machine and sounds of laugh are very mechanical. Antonia Baehr has full control of her body. Every movement is considered, every tension of her body is visible. She is calm and her laugh isn’t random. She knows different techniques of laughing and she uses them, but her laugh seems to be natural.
When she later puts her head to glass vessels she looks crazy and unnatural. Her face is very deformed. The glass looks like the screen of television. It is comic TV program? But her laugh isn’t funny and light – it is frightening. Not only face of Antonia Baehr is deformed – deformed is also sound of her voice. She show us that our laugh can be different and cause different reaction.
Laugh is the movement. When we laugh our muscles are active. Our body is active though not always we see it. We hear our laugh, we hear sound. Antonia Baehr makes us aware of the mechanism of human laugh. She provokes us to laugh. Her action makes our bodies also begin to move. We are laughing out at her and with us. It is independent of us. It is natural movement of our body. And very simple.
There was a happy ending with laughs during the second evening of L1danceFest when Antonia Baehr welcomes us on stage and involves the audience in a musical roller coaster ride. From the very beginning with her self-confident ambiguity that doesn't go unnoticed (as the performance's theme) and a mocking seriousness, the multi-talented German artist displaces our obvious perceptions and presents us with a special theme.
Is it possible to represent the laugh, starting by deconstructing an impulse and presenting it in a scientific way without losing its creative and spontaneous effect?
And is it possible to propose again a laugh through a musical score, removing it from its natural environment of the social or a funny event which triggers it ?
Laughing is on the stage but it is not triggered by a well-written comedy play ; we could rather think of a cabaret musical play conceived in sort of entr'actes, a collection of polyhedric vocal virtuosity that Antonia Baehr offers to the audience in the form of a self-portrait.
But 'Laugh' is also a loving choral work, a composition of many familiar voices. The symphony that the she proposes, in its elaboration, is the gift of many scores specially designed for her by some of his closest friends for her birthday.
Antonia as orchestra conductor, even in a serious black suit for males and with a red collar tight around her neck, sat on a chair in front of a musical sheets, taking the tempo and with a deft gaze to the audience, starts to mix her own sounds and variations as a DJ and manages from the first intermittent bellowing laugh to interact with her audience, breaking the fourth wall of passive consumption.
With a continuous play of echoes and variations with her audience, Antonia as jazz composer seems to draw new energy from contagious laugh, creating even more sound material to work on, in a resonant space where the sound takes various shapes and colours for more than 50 minutes.
The stage presence of the performer is flawless: the balance between breaking into laughter and returning into a state of neutrality is the result of a meticulous research and technique of body tension and release. Continuous control of each gesture, attention to each minimal expression, facial training muscularity and conscious technique of relaxing throat and diaphragm make her whole body respond precisely to this intention: laugh and make others laugh. But not in the most trivial way!
Still in the script, in order to treat the scientific aspect of laughter as a game, Antonia plays with some objects on the stage: first she moves as a street juggler in a circus act creating a 'dance of balls' to support her thesis. This way “laugh” takes shape physically and audibly, underlining the difference of magnitude, colours and tone propagated by a voice.
Then, in a sort of grotesque fun-fair hall of mirrors, a clownesque Antonia deforms her smile and laugh behind a magnifying glass, encapsulating both sharp shrills and deep laughter borrowed from horror movie image. Antonia as clown succeds in representing well this ambivalent icon of contrast between promised laughs and evoked chills.
The end is an act of gratitude for all the presents received: a fond dedication to her mother , an exchange, this time a recorded real-life dialogue, the artist out of the scene, the stage brought to life by a duet for two female voices. The questions arises: is fake laughter contagious? What do you think now?
So if you have a chance to see Antonia during a live show or to talk with her after the performance, please remember to take part in her experiment and enjoy the evening. Don't stop a good 'Laugh'! And if you're grumpy please stay at home with your head-phones.