Gigs, dance, art

February 14th, 2008: Meg Stuart & Philipp Gehmacher – Maybe Forever

@théatre de la ville

I didn’t book it that day on purpose, but what a fit; a duet about a couple not so much breaking up as acknowledging they have drifted apart. At least that’s my read, but I’m well aware that I just suck at this.

I think that was the most peaceful and relaxed work by Meg Stuart I’ve seen so far. There was a lot of tension but it was more implied that overtly on display. The stage was sparse, with a few mike stands, a small platform with a couple of steps, a semi circle of curtains and a big picture of dandelions in the center. A nice lighting trick made that picture appeared to be black and white in the beginning, then slowly evolved through browns and greens to reveal itself as a color picture for a while, before that process was reverted. Most of the music was performed on stage by Niko Hafkenscheid, a few songs I didn’t much care for, but also some repeated guitar phrases that grew on me (right now some of that music is on Meg Stuart’s site); somewhat melancholy, but not teary, a perfect soundtrack.

The dance was understated, no running or leaping, most of the time keeping to small gestures and a lot of extended or bent arms. Many straight lines were curves would have been expected, and that was the source of most of the tension I felt. At times, they would move into a short embrace that would fell stilted from one of both keeping arms extended or bent. Or one would be seated while the other moved. My impression was that Philipp Gehmacher kept his arms straight a lot, whereas Meg Stuart often went with angles, but I’m not sure about that. There were some moments when they did embrace or move in synch for a while, but it didn’t last. The tension I felt at the beginning dissipated along the way, replaced by some kind of wistful acceptance. The show ended as Gehmacher spoke a few lines about

Two sections really stood out for me. The first one was another spoken word/dance moment that I love in Meg Stuart’s work. My favorite remains the “guilty” monologue from Alibi, but this one was just great. The sentences started with “remember when” and usually ended with “I take it back”. The ending sometimes was not uttered, and my almost hearing it anyway made way to uncertainty. At first what was taken back was words of endearment, but it grew more confused and sometimes it was the opposite. I thought that was just brilliant. In between she would sometimes just extend her arms, sometimes take a few steps, and a nice touch was the creaking of her leather jacket that was loud enough to be caught by the mike. There was another section of spoken word, good but I just loved that first one.

My other favorite moment was closer to the end of the show, when their movements mirrored each other’s. The brilliant twist being that one would lead and the other made a show of looking at the other and copying the movements with a slight delay and some tentative quality. They switched, always with one looking at the other, but never looking at each other. Coming closer then drifting apart. That was excellent in that setting. I think that was the most restrained show I’ve seen in a while, but as usual with Meg Stuart, it still packed a potent emotional punch.


February 16, 2008 - Posted by | Dance | , ,

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