because the personal is cultural
Peter Trosztmer is both dancer and conductor in AQUA KHORIA, his collaboration with musician-digital artist Zack Zettle. Set within the dome of the SAT, Trosztmer evolves against a 360-degree animated projection that reacts to light and movement. In the middle of the floor: a small circular pond.
As we enter the room, we are surrounded by buoys, gently rocking their bells in the middle of the night. After the doors close behind the last spectator, Trosztmer whips the waters into a storm with his rain dance, looking like Mickey Mouse moving brooms about with his magic. The tumultuous waters swallow us into the calmness of its depth, pushes us back out, and ultimately pulls us back in. Follows an exploration of this underwater world, like an animated documentary without voice-over narration where experience is privileged over knowledge.
A drop of water falls into the pond. (How nice it would have been had it been mic’ed.) As the pond is lit, we perceive its reflection as light play on the dome, a sky made of water. Sometimes I find myself believing that through art we’re looking to capture something of nature that we’ve lost: the chaos and the beauty. It would explain why there’s so much art in the city and so little in the country.
Trosztmer approaches the water on all fours. When he finally dips his paws in, he stands but remains hunched over. We are simultaneously witnessing evolution and regression as a human being goes back to the water that we came from. The drop of water falls on him before turning into a stream in a quasi-Flashdance moment, as Trosztmer is now down to his underwear.
We reach a cave of moving shadows as Trosztmer walks around the space holding a candle, and travel through a tunnel without taking a single step. Trosztmer then goes back to playing conductor with his movement, which espouses the shape of the dome: height and circumference, what we are guessing are the two main ways of controlling the sound. The music is provided by harp-like-sounding notes from a synthesizer backed by a chill beat, which ends up sounding like Muzak for a spa.
We then find ourselves in what looks like lava inside a whale (or at least its bones), like Jonah. Soon, the whale is caught in a whirlpool and we are spat back out to the surface of the water, now calm again, as seagulls fly overhead. There is something of IMAX in the simplistic narrative followed here: exposition (calm waters), conflict (storm), journey (cave), climax (whirlpool), resolution (calm waters).
Of course, we’re more interested in the 360-degree projection than we are in the dance. Who could possibly compete with technology? There could be a ten-inch screen broadcasting hockey behind a dancer and we’d find ourselves watching the game. Some transitions could have been smoother as the music, projection and performance keep changing at the same time, but ultimately AQUA KHORIA does play like an IMAX movie: pleasant while it lasts but otherwise unmemorable.
www.tangente.qc.ca / www.danse-cite.org
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.
s.verstricht [at] gmail [dot] com