because the personal is cultural
Corps de Walk: A Review
Corps de Walk, photo by Erik Berg
You might be hearing animal sounds, but human beings are already somewhere else. They are no longer a manifestation of life itself; they have taken it and placed it outside of themselves. It’s now in the nature around them, the nature that used to inhabit them, and in the heavens above.
At the beginning of choreographer Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar’s Corps de Walk, the twelve Carte Blanche dancers lift their arms up to the sky like they’re in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. However, while in the latter the performers couldn’t be more earnest, here something is already off. It reads like parody. By spiritualizing themselves, human beings have become more disembodied, less animal, less human.
In her previous show presented in Montreal, Bertolina, Eyal already offered us a microcosm of human society, though in this former vision each was still allowed to retain some individuality. Here, differences are eradicated until uniformity takes over both their appearance and movement. It’s at first funny, then unsettling, and eventually nightmarish.
From robots to ballet dancers, there’s only one step. They go there. By dehumanizing themselves, human beings end up parodying themselves. In Corps de Walk, uniformity and synchronicity reach obsessive heights, falling into sci-fi horror territory. Think Village of the Damned, The Stepford Wives, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and any other movie where a single entity controls multiple bodies. The resulting creatures are androgynous and beige, desexualized, deracialized. Their bodies, overly controlled, are troubling.
A dancer shouts: “Now”? Their synchronicity is regimented from the outside, dictated military-style. Obedience is necessary; and disturbing. They are a mindless herd. The togetherness does not feed them; it feeds off them. As opposed to Karine Denault’s Pleasure Dome or Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Cesena, they are but empty vessels. In Denault’s show, you witnessed the ego fade away; here, it is the self itself that is eradicated. The oppression is claustrophobic.
On the rare occasions when a dancer escapes the group to execute their own movement, it is liberating; but they inevitably get swallowed back into the mass. (After the show, I heard an astute audience member compare it to Jean-Pierre Perreault’s work.)
Dance music blasts over the speakers. As the lights slowly fade, the dancers (barely) move to the beat in a tight formation. They are zombies at the club. Just do like everybody else. Don’t bring any attention to yourself. Don’t stand out. Don’t be.
February 28-March 2 at 8pm
Danse Danse / Théâtre Maisonneuve
www.dansedanse.net / laplacedesarts.com
514.842.2112 / 1.866.842.2112
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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