What is in the AIR?

Inta Balode

Besides the theme of the day which was AIR, the afternoon session of the third day of Cal-Laboratory Kitchen 2012 was also partly influenced by short but interesting lunch talk about the State of the Arts: presenting, creating, and writing about dance today. The talk mainly focused about what is happening in contemporary arts, i.e., what is in the AIR? Mostly optimistic statements were made saying that despite financial problems this is a very good time for arts, community’s involvement, interest and trust in their own creativity is growing, also artists keep offering enough of fresh and exciting ideas.

For me as a dance writer the most important outcome of the talk were couple things expressed by artists regarding criticism: a question about why there is so much description of work going on in writing? a comment that artists want to hear from writers evaluation of their work, expressing what it was and preferably helping in later promotion of the work? Those two comments were my starting point for looking at the Kitchen’s sharings in the afternoon. Also even if I absolutely agree that writers belong to the art form, I do not agree that writer’s task is to serve dance up to the level where all writings are made to help fundraising and advertising. That is marketing’s task. We should keep the discussion, doubt, controversy, disagreement as well. If we never do the bad cops role our serving to the dance will fade in the AIR. Also I think that choosing to write only about what I like is a very discriminative attitude towards other artists. „Like” is just a facebook statement, as opposed taking my time to get into any work no matter how I liked or disliked it. This turns me into more serious advocate for intangible dance arts. Advocate of the arts which footprints disappear once the AIR stops moving in the theater.

Couple sentences about four works shared on August 15 – no descriptions, just saying how it was and trying to include something that would fit press kits. Each text has exactly the same structure and starting phrases. Take it as a game, not everything what’s said is what I really think. The aim is to look how interesting it is to read the review without description:

The performance by Claudia Lavista and Renato Gonzalez made me think of the complexity of the air, of how simple it seems if we don’t think of it and how complicated it gets once we start exploring. It made me feel the vast never-ending movement and at times I couldn’t believe my senses: something solid looked like moving, something alive was as an ancient monument. The artists succeeded in creating an atmosphere and using the space. They failed in providing stable sound and there were also see gaps in the development of the work. Choreographers achieved the important switch of the perspective and authentic presence of the researched subject, i.e. AIR.

The performance by Henry Torres and Angel Arambula made me think of the world seen through the reflections both in the sense of mirroring and also as thinking. Not everything we see in front of our eyes is exactly what it is. And in this case such less used sense as smell can help to reach the truth. The work made me feel the opposition of a larger group to bigger group and also I started feeling the smells of my surrounding. The artists succeeded in collaboration with the musician Adam and also in the doing less to get more. Though they failed in making audience to feel safe, because at certain moment I as an audience member thought that I’m stinking. However as a whole the piece achieved its goal – the AIR became the substance.

The performance by Olga Zitluhina and Inta Balode made me think of ridiculous human attempts which often doesn’t have any reason. Self-torturing for the sake of nothing, ending with complete burn-out. The work made me feel the violence happening on the edge of funny and aggressive. It also had strong kinesthetic impact. The piece succeeded in creating well organized and logically-paradoxical structure, it had some sense of humor. It failed in unmotivated and poorly performed opening speech and also in offending ballet lovers. The demonstration of the idea of lack and overdose of the air was achieved.

The performance by Jazmin Chiodi and Alexandre Iseli made me think of contemporary marketing being able to sell ice to polar bear and air to oxygen factory; and about our seriousness in implementing any instruction which is supposed to help in getting better life. It made me feel the flow and the drought, the time and the wind. The performance succeeded in playing with audience’s vision and hearing as well as with smartly faded out ending. Though it failed in over-entertaining audience with text and a result it was difficult to perceive important movement and graphics information. The work achieved nuanced and unified sense of the group, the group sharing the AIR.