because the personal is cultural
Stéphane Guignard's Songs, photo by Frédéric Desmesure
Three women. A koto player, a singer, a dancer.
East meets West. Music meets dance. Voice meets bodies.
At the back of the stage, a single passage of light. The dancer travels through the light; the light travels through the dancer. The voice: a woman from another time, from another planet. A woman from another world. The otherworldliness of her appearance: crimson red hair, a futuristic high-collared burgundy dress made from a quilted material akin to that of a bed cover, blue eye shadow popping out. The otherworldliness of her voice: sometimes manipulated digitally, echoed, reverberated, amplified.
Static noise for applause.
The koto player: comically intense, as she violently shakes her head from side to side while playing her instrument.
Hard to resist Songs’ charm, at first. Unfortunately, it loses much of its magic as it progresses. It would help if the entrances and exits were better dissimulated, by shifting our attention from performer to performer and by dimming the lights. The latter technique is better carried out in the second half of the show.
And what of the dancer? Let’s speak of the dance itself: anaemic.
One could say that that’s okay given that Songs is more a concert than a dance show, but the truth is that even the musical element suffers from the same problem. Not the music itself, nor the talent of the three performers, which remains undeniable. However, none of them are used to their full capacity.
Director Stéphane Guignard claims to be inspired by John Cage, but even after reading all the material in the press package, how exactly that is remains obscure. With the American artist’s philosophy, using him as an inspiration is not unlike using life itself.
As all the elements are only partially made use of, questions begin to emerge. What justifies the form of the show? What is its guiding principle? What is at its core? These questions remain unanswered.
The show ends with the nine tubes of coloured light at the back of the stage. As their colours change, they begin to flash on and off alternately, one light going off each time until we are down to none. The effect is hypnotic. It is the most compelling part of the show. A solution emerges: cut all the performers, turn Songs into a light show.
February 25 & 26 at 7pm
Agora de la danse
Tickets: 20$ / Students and those under 30: 14$
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