Busy with kedjaKlaipeda we missed the first day of International contemporary dance festival TIME TO DANCE which is the biggest contemporary dance event in Latvia. Anyway I’m sure you know about the festival from www.dance.lv where you can read all the details about the artists and performances, and workshops and more. As regards DANCE.LV Journal we have great news. A week before the festival we announced open call for people willing to “Reveal a critic inside yourself!” and now we have three writers keeping an eye on the festival events and reporting, analyzing, criticizing, reviewing etc. And what is the most amazing thing – we have some texts also in English and we will share them here.
Anna Pierhurovica introduces herself: „I dance since age of three – started with folk dancing and now I have 15 years experience in dance studio “Benefice” in Jelgava. The position of critic was attractive for me not only because I’m interested in dance life in Latvia but I’m also worried about the survival of contemporary dance in this country. It seems that the average dance viewer cannot perceive anything more than polka and line dancing. That’s why I’m searching for reasons, because it might be that “the guilty one” is a choreographer, i.e., his inability to express himself within the dance and the message. In my dancing and work I’m critical to myself and others, I evaluate all the aspects starting from make-up and ending with the way dancer leaves the stage.”
Contemporary dance festival „Time to Dance 2013”. Opening concert in Daile theatre June 14th
I’m sure you are familiar with the proverb „First impressions are everything” … I will begin by saying that a festival of this magnitude was introduced poorly to say the least, since it is an important part of Latvian culture being a noteworthy festival. Not to mention that dancers revealing themselves from the curtain before the actual show and performing on stage with earrings is not complementing their knowledge in stage culture. Who’s to blame – forgetfulness?
Of course now I’m entering my scrupulous stage, then again “the devil is in the details”, don’t you agree? The festival was, as it turns out, traditionally introduced by choreography students of contemporary dance of Latvian Academy of culture as part of their examinations in composition of dance.
Without doubt each and every one of the prospective professionals is a fine, truly fine and potent executor, but an architect? I’m myself fully aware of how difficult synthesis of dance is, at least at the beginning of a career while the discovery of one’s system and manner of creating (let’s call it “handwriting”). The concert gave the opportunity to witness dance numbers as well as etudes or sketches, which made me ask, how could that have been included in a unit of dance composition, then again one could remind me that it is contemporary art, where strict genre or category (call it what you want) borders don’t exist.
The ground for the examination products was music of the 20th century. I’m grateful for the few individuals who could however opt for something more interesting than piano music, which was chosen by at least 80 percent of choreographers. A special compliment is directed towards the ones, who were inspired by national Latvian composers – Imants Kalni?š and J?kabs N?manis. You can’t declare that Latvians are without wonderful music, can you?! I had a chance to verify the fact that it is very dangerous to select work of a popular and well known composer, for instance John Williams, Yann Tiersen or John Cage. The music consumes the stage activity because of it being more powerful than the accompaniment of dance. As a result one receives more satisfaction in listening than observing. In my opinion the biggest hazard is achieved by including an extremely popular movie soundtrack in the musical accompaniment. This was done by the choreographer in the performance with hair braids (a public instruction directed to me for not acquiring the concert program with all of the artists’ names listed) – the song is very much recognizable from various movies, which is why it was nearly impossible to dismiss the view that the musical potential is not used entirely and the manner of the melody mismatches the structure of movements. The other excess consists of absolutely unpalatable, even unbearable musical accompaniment, for example in the performance with a halter on the neck of the dancer – sniveling, scratching and groaning for an estimate of 3 minutes was indeed a challenge for one’s patience.
Now on to dance itself – from what I recall was an amount of 20 – some dance numbers, the authors being as I mentioned earlier various contemporary dance choreography students , one stroke me as an outstanding, simply outstanding example of contemporary dance. Fantastic – to make a long story short. The title being “Boomerang”, the performance itself was a spectacular example of contact improvisation, technique and composition. Simply outstanding! This was achieved with harmony and lightness of movements, a complete development cycle – prefance – culmination – conclusion – , conformable music and use of room. Indeed wonderful! A must see! Nonetheless I must note that the entire number of performances consisted of some amount of typical manner of movement or combination repetition and I’m not referring to progression or the so called movement augmentation. These kind of dance numbers seem dull to me, for I don’t consider a 3 minute soundtrack accompanied by 3 combinations in a rondo to be qualified as a dance. The remaining performances I have subdivided into three, of course conditional, categories: 1) “Splendid, but something is missing”; “Plain movements” and 3) “Musical etudes”.
The first consists of dance numbers whose line of plot was clear to me, as well as motivation of conduct and technical accomplishment – notable, yet something was missing from the big picture (mainly it was the absence of conclusion and outcome), I was not quite sure of everything that was going on. In this category I placed (the so called) “Butterfly in a jar” – because of heavy and rugged execution of movements; the earlier mentioned dance with music of I. Kalni?š – because of music overpowering the actual dance; the performance „Behold!” – because of the halt of growth in the middle of the performance it became dull and boring, it was basically watching two people running on the spot; a number, where dancers had flower-printleggings on (ugh, I despise leggings, just..No) – in their physiognomy I failed to see reason for their movements and interactions, which nevertheless were impulsive, dynamic and technically good, but – on what grounds?; „Aquarium” and „Blindman’s-buff”, as well as, if I’m not mistaken, “Zikivators” and “TransForming” displayed good execution, but I was bothered by obvious repetition and especially the latter very noticeably mismatching the musical accompaniment; a performance where a duet was dancing to a Russian song – the moves were rather fun and amusing, but! there was no evolution; “Public treatment” – which addressed with its moral and use of property, but! – an empty gaze of the main dancer.
The second category is characterized by good technical execution, but the absence of plot or at least a conjunctive element, as well as, I repeat myself, empty gazes. I must remind that this is my personal preference. In this category I insert the opening number with a door property; “meyouthey”, as I recall, which reminded of a horror movie, the plot being four scientists creating a fiend, which develops to its imago stage and then leaves its creators – I simply could not perceive this performance, what I saw were plain movements. This refers also to the number with long white dresses, as well as “about You” – I made nothing of the dancers tiring themselves out, being nearly breathless, since their breathing suggested that its physically challenging – for what purpose?
The third and final category by my preference consists of the poorest performances, and if it was my saying, these would have been excluded from the concert – the girl with the halter on her neck, “Heaven walker”, the bride etude and “Cannot undo” performance.
In conclusion I shall rerun, that without doubt each aspiring professional is a wonderful executor, but I shall refrain from crediting them as choreographers, after all they are still in the process of studying. Time will tell.
Impressions and flow of thought about Editta Braun Company (Austria) „Currently Resident in…”
Who does not wish to travel the world? To see different countries, to get acquainted with a diverse culture? To meet new people, to have a new life? For some this is a way of life by their choice, for some – life forces to adapt.
A Russian living in France and studying German – ain’t that wonderful? One could be impressed even, but if he got to know the person he could probably learn that he is fighting for his survival. And many, many, many other examples that we can meet everyday day anywhere in the world.
The performance looks at the phenomenon of not belonging anywhere in particular, well at least physically not. Being a resident in a foreign country no one cannot definitely say that he will stay there for the remaining lifetime. Nothing is constant, nothing is definite. It also looks at the effects of a person living, working, eventually existing in a different place than his home, where he feels like a fish in the water. With the help of sound effects as well as brilliant use of visual projections by the artists Evelyn Braun, Sigrid Linher and Thomas Hinterberger the spectator is taken to an exotic place, as I deduce Colombia, the birthplace of the performer Juan Dante Murillo Bobadilla, the use of his native language makes the mood even more true-to-life. The reference of living in a place with two oceans, wonderful flora and fauna, breathtaking landscapes, mountains raises the question of why would one even want to leave this paradise of a country. But that’s just a first world white person point of view. As he later explains in a contrasting toned down voice and remorse – it’s also a place of drugs, narcotraffic, prostitution and corruption. Naturally he sets off to Europe to realize his “big dream”, which I guess is the Promised Land as to what North and South America is to the Eastern world.
Juan Dante in his performance researches and explores and maybe even shares some personal experiences from his own journey. An important emphasis is being put on the term “luck” – as himself being an emigrant in the process of finding his luck in a foreign country. He is indeed lucky to have arms and legs, hair, face all of the features than come in handy when adapting to a different culture.
In his movements Juan is very light, dynamic, impulsive, coordinated, everything is in harmony, and the spectator gets to enjoy different manners of his dance. Slow, plastic movements, usage of all the levels on the room – with jumps, hand stands, rolls, swings, crawling on the ground – I must note the reference to being “a fish” in AND out “of water” was portrayed very clever. At some point it seems as the dancer is made of rubber, so very elastic, which also refers to his ability to adapt and be let’s say “elastic” towards different conditions and terms.
Aaaaaand…naturally his dreams and spirit are eventually crushed under the load of learning a new language, finding a job, trying to provide for oneself, struggling with suspicion and preconception because of his tropical and exotic phenotype. The sketch about authorities suspiciously questioning Juan was indeed in a masterly manner, also an especial bravo! to the reference about authorities argumenting their actions as “being a new law”, which the dancer wonderfully spoke in Latvian. References and recognition of global as well as national problems was spectacular! I highly doubt that the performance left a single spectator unimpressed.
The performance was concluded with a highly philosophical and professional etude about how one forgets and loses himself, this being portrayed as Juan being constantly questioned about his origin and word by word forgetting why is he here, where does he come from or what his name is. He is eventually made a primate out of himself resulting in a complete loss of liveliness or any trace of his earlier self.
In conclusion – if a piece of art leaves you contemplating existence after the end of it, I would consider it a success, which this was definitely.