Gigs, dance, art

October 12th, 2007: Mathilde Monnier – Tempo 76

I was craving some pure dance for a change, with less talk and shiny things. I didn’t exactly get my wish, but it wasn’t that far.

The stage was covered with grass, it did look like the real thing from my perch. Dancers came into view one at a time, all nine of them dressed exactly alike — denims, white shirt and tie — and doing the exact same movements at the exact same time. But it didn’t feel like the clockwork precision of classical ballet at all. A big part of that was that they were all very different, nothing like the standard profile of classical dancers. Another was that they were doing things like sitting, lying down, rolling, tearing blades of grass to shreds, in other words what you would expect to see people do in any park. The overall effect of these contradictory elements were eerie. Another great touch was that when they got to moving around, some of them were out of view at times, either on the sides or behind a black curtain in the back; that expanded the stage and made imagination a part of it.

That perfect synch was deliberately broken at times, with gradually increasing frequency, but always within a pattern. There were fighting stances, some sobbing, nothing that was coming across as classical, except the unity. The music was by Ligeti, and my favorite part was to the sound of metronomes, with a line gradually dissolving. It made perfect sense, maybe as a mirror image of that music where order comes from having fewer beats. Having seen it performed a few month ago, I was reminded of having thought of swaying grass at the time; another echo, together with the group/individual and order/chaos splits that gave me a key to what I was seeing tonight.

At about the halfway point, they switched to checkered dresses and colored hoodies, the same cut but with different colors, then at the very end they kept the skirts but went to T-shirts of different cuts and more similar colors. I only mention this because I think that was consistent with the overall theme. What was interesting was that the opening really set me up to expect to see identical moves, so even I was probably ignoring some difference, that made slight deviations momentous and big ones striking. I didn’t care much for the emotional displays — sobbing, laughter, fear — but that was more like a pause in an intense experience.

At the very end, the light turned lower and they proceeded to tear up some strips of grass and playing with these in slow motion, the mood turned lighter and all mimicry was gone. I’m really impressed by the way this show was expertly structured, and how what I perceived to be abstract themes were explored through a slight distortion of casual, even trivial appearances. Maybe that was just all that grass getting to my head, but I liked this a lot.


October 12, 2007 - Posted by | Dance | ,

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