because the personal is cultural
A dog runs incessantly but forever remains in the same spot. It is Muybridge’s dog. It is a video loop. The dog can run without ever becoming tired, but also without ever getting anywhere. A movement emptied out of its functionality. A movement for study. A dance movement.
British choreographer Wayne McGregor turns ten dancers into animals on display in Entity. The human body as machine. Ballet mécanique. Ballet animal. Introduction of the ten dancers. Dynamic, as entrances and exits multiply, sometimes no dancing executed in between. No physical contact, but fleeting synchronized movement. The chest: thrusting out. The torso: wriggling. The hands: shifting. The legs: extending. Ballet in the legs, animal in the upper body, bending as though the spinal column has been removed.
Duets. Not the same ease at first, as limbs get stuck together, brief moments of struggle. The kinks quickly get worked out.
Trios. Undeniably an enormous amount of work choreographically.
Group. The animal is difficult to maintain in the multitude of interactions. The human is a social animal that can only interact through socialized behaviour. The ballet takes over. Couples form. A little gender inversion: in one of the couples, the woman is supporting the man while he executes his steps. Édouard Lock could learn something from this.
Post-crescendo. The women. The arms are so expressive that they could be considered verbose, but they are in such symbiosis with the rest of the body that it doesn’t appear to be so. A body section might look isolated, but it influences the rest of the body so tangibly that it is no longer perceived as such. The human body as a whole, continuous.
Men/Women. A man walks like one of our primate cousins. On a dime, he switches to a more human, but decidedly confident walk. Again, movement as social phenomenon. If we can move in a multitude of ways, why move only in a limited set of ways? A decision that is usually unconscious becomes conscious through dance. Animal or ballet? Dichotomy or symbiosis?
The dancers are swift, dexterous, and precise. The work requires it. The set design is imposing yet simple and effective. The black and white video is tasteful and complements the action. Yet Entity lacks a certain punch. Its dynamism feels empty rather than energetic. A more drastic lighting design might help push it over the edge. So might a more complex structure.
Bookends. A video loop of a dog running. But after what?
February 10-12 at 8pm
Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts
www.dansedanse.net / www.laplacedesarts.com
514.842.2112 / 1.866.842.2112
Tickets start at 24.80$
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