Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dance [Dance] Revolution?

In my previous experience, dance has left me wanting more. I've never connected to it, never felt moved or especially inspired. For me, it has always presented itself as a showcase of physical skill: the ability to complete a combination without a wobble, or a perfectly synchronized sequence of repetition between a company. At a conservatory whose primary focus was dance, the most moving choreography I witnessed came in the form of a girl (wearing too much eyeliner) twirling violently to Christina Aguilera's "I Am Beautiful". So you see my disappointment.

Cut to the Place, an intimate venue in Euston where dance is an entire language. The body is suddenly the instrument it should be, pushing limits and potentials all the time. I was there to see Theatre enCorps and WELD present a double bill, as my tutor (and mentor) Ana Sanchez-Colberg shared a piece of her work that was particularly personal and courageous.

Efva Lilja has choreographed two pieces for three distinct people. These are dancers, lovers, mothers, full and complete, becoming vulnerable. They are moving to say the unsayable. They are no longer "traditional" dancers--Sylwan and Abramson are 65 and 69 years old--but it runs deeper than that. They are actively engaged in a process that is revealed to the audience; it is our shared process of working things out, of simply expressing. This is not about technical prowess anymore, as these dancers push to the limits of choreography and beyond. What is difficult is allowed to be, and watching it is equally as challenging. Here they have developed such a familiar human vocabulary that words are not necessary.

You may watch Ana dance, thinking 'I have no idea where that came from, but I know how that feels'. If you are lucky enough to know her (the woman is a goddess), then the experience is doubled in intensity. As we see her making these choreographed movements her own, she is simultaneously living moments of her life, taking charge and living fiercely on this stage. The piece clearly anchors somewhere deep inside of her, and that is enough to root it in the spectators as well.

So maybe modern dance isn't my bag, and I still don't know exactly how to treat the official 'dancetheatre'. For years I've been watching dance with this enforced notion that if I don't 'get it', then it must be my ignorance. Yay for art elitism...I'm really glad to be getting over that.

Pina Bausch and I may make peace yet.



Blogger STBD said...

I appreciate the beauty of good choreography, but I don't believe I've ever been particularly "moved" by a performance of dance. That said, I quite enjoy a good musical, so perhaps my frame of reference is incomplete, broken or dulled. I would love the opportunity to be moved by dance, however -- or anything, really -- so it's positive knowing that it CAN happen, even to an anti-dance fan like yourself. ;)

12:52 AM  

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