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2014-09-23

echoes _ kadrinoormets: an hour of by Kristóf Farkas

Infinitennui so great – dance theory and/or critic 

– Do you watch the marathon until the end? 
– For how long do you keep watching dancing people in a disco?  
– When you are running, do you know how many times you put one foot in front if the other? 
– When you are dancing, do you know since how many hours have you been shifting your weight from one foot to the other? 

The third official day of L1danceFest 2014 is the second busiest evening: we see three performances in a row, and it is the most diverse day – so far –, what concerns the pace. Pregnancy and intra-uterus life with Arvo Pärt, mono(ph)ton(g)ized disco dance on the race track, punk ballet with falsettos and distorted guitar... The second contestant – although it is not a contest, since neither the rabbit, nor the turtle was serious about it – plays probably with the highest stake.
Looking at the brochure of L1danceFest – during the five days it is impossible not to read it (at least a few times) –, we see that the Estonian duo of girls isn’t performing a dance piece in the literal sense of the word. They compare their performance to a steeplechase, without an exact start or finish; there are too many contestants on the track, and the winner is unpredictable anyway, we shouldn’t even start making predictions. So why is there a stake? Why is their start the most risky? And why do they reach the finish line? They must be thinking in infinity for sure! Just like the marathoner, who starts running, reaches the finish line and keeps on running. We know this is the mentality that can lead to success. And it is (almost) certain, that we will not watch it on TV until the end.
While the audience member take their seats, the two dancers are already waiting for them prepared: they are standing in the “middle” of the narrow white ballet mat running along the whole length of the stage and off of it on its two ends – we know its width, still it seems infinite. Darkness. Light: back-to-back. They stand – if one of them would run off the stage, she would surely come back on the mat’s other end, opposite of the other dancer. Slow music. Getting faster. “Racing beat.” They are still. They start to move, slowly, first the knees, then the thighs, the skirts start to wriggle (both are wearing skirts), then hips, waists, abdomen, chest, arms, neck, head and hair – to the left, and then to the right. It isn’t hard to imagine – this is what we see if we go to a club. As if we would watch the two girls through a close-up of a club’s security camera – but there is no camera this time, they are dancing in front of us. Separate, simultaneously, looking cheekily at one another, then they depart. It isn’t hard to imagine. No large moves, just left to right, plus the arms. Then the side of the feet, the wrists, the napes starts to glisten – hair sticks to it. Nothing else happens but the clear and simple fact that they are dancing. All we see is dance in its purest form, nothing else. We see what we wouldn’t go on watching. Who would watch a marathon until its end? Or Tour de France, for god’s sake? (Comment if you do, I don’t know how that is possible.)
The performance last for 60 minutes. Time is shut down for the duration of the performance. It may seem endlessly long, or rather short – who hasn’t danced until morning, thinking they would be at home by midnight, but got into bed early morning at the end. It is not time that is switched off. What could switch off during the performance is our brain. So the performance is a tempting – respectively an offered, proposed – possibility to switch off, and get absorbed in what is happening – we are indeed watching a dance anyway. Although the performance has a “physical” time – I mean by that, that the bartender of the theatre’s café knows he has 60 minutes to tidy up until the break – but its experience and perception is defined by us. As kadrinoormets (the choreographer/who came up with the idea of the performance) aptly put it during the subsequent artist talk, “if we think it is too long, we are testing ourselves.” Of course we can agree with her, on the other hand the questions arise, “why would I have to watch this until he end?”; “why couldn’t I go out?” The answer was in fact told during the discussion, but it was already clear before: the decision is ours. So it is not stated, but implied that the performance uses a concept – with or without intention –, which is not a conceptualist projection framed by the stage. The piece – or performance, in the sense of genre – rather articulates an idea, which forcefully reveals our conceptualist attitude and interpretation. In this case, it is the choice of the freedom of choice. 

photo: Szabó Roland
To dissolve the mystical haze, what the performance offers is not more than the waving of the transparent veil of an instantaneous free will, so while we see it moving we can decide: are we going to stay or leave? Do we put ourselves to the test and subject ourselves to a constant self-reflective analysis, or do we exercise the right of choice and leave? The idea presented by the piece is the idea of freedom itself. Solely an idea, because only to weigh the possibility, we have to be put into such a sensitive and extreme position by the situation, that we either stay at our place or else we start fiddling in our chairs until we go out.
So the act of choosing leads continuously to a temporary position, in which the state of keeping up the concentration is increasingly concentrated – this is a mental challenge, a mind work, a brain game, an exercise: a sport (see brochure). The whole game happening in the mental space created by the performance (and played by us) is induced by the performance, moreover it is organised by it! Organised, since in its structurality, by providing the feeling of monotony, the situation is drawn up through nonaction, nonmanifestation, only in a repetitive call for self-awareness: the actual action is the possibility to step out of the mental space. This is a kind of exiting, a mental-performative act, which we do or it is happening inside of us; it is not the content of the performance – only its concept carries the perceptivity of reception. What can also be stated here is the primary role of the body, like an organic filter, which manifests the seemingly simple idea of free will through its monotonous physical exercise. The second phase of the work has to be done by us, the inception already happened. The work is a question, a choice, if we are going to act on it. We don’t even have to stand up for this...
 Farkas Kristóf - KÖM

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