It’s very much through the feet that dance is finding its outlet this week at Tangente. Meena Murugesan presents We used to see this, a solo that moves through the different settings in which the Indian dance bharata natyam has been performed through the centuries. As for Nancy Gloutnez, she continues to explore the musicality of jig with Débile Métal.
I believe it is the first time that I was exposed to bharata natyam in a live setting with We used to see this, which might be part of the reason why I mostly took it in as a sensory experience. As such, I would recommend sitting as far away from the stage as possible on the left-hand side so as to be able to witness the beautiful shadow dance that occurs on the wall to the right.
In the final section, she drops handfuls of nickels on herself, which roll across the floor and end up covering the stage in a way that might recall the walnuts scattered by Maria Kefirova in the very same space for The Nutcracker.
A different register awaits us for Débile Métal. When we enter the room, a heavy metal song with especially dickish guitar riffs is playing while an image of a thorn-crowned Jesus is projected onto a black curtain at the back of the stage. As soon as the song ends, the image fades and a dancer comes out onstage wearing grey dress pants and shirt, as well as suspenders. So are the four other men joining him (some minus the suspenders), while the sole woman sports a grey dress.
It is at first sweeping the floor from left to right and back again that they perform their jig, before crossing each other’s paths in a way that hints at randomness as the dancers look at each other to only nearly avoid collision. Eventually, they do not only run into each other but also push each other, messing up their footwork. They play with the fact that their jig shoes enable or cause them to slide across the floor. They find their rhythm again as they move towards centre stage, falling back into synchronicity with the others. Gloutnez is playing with the usual cleanness of the synchronized jig step, expertly juggling the orchestrated and the chaotic.
One by one, the performers take off one shoe and then the other as they keep dancing. The sharp note of the jig shoe becomes layered with the deeper tone of the bare foot before the dancers effectively perform their own fade out as their step becomes lighter and lighter. Her work being as intelligent as it is satisfying for the senses, Gloutnez is undoubtedly the contemporary jig choreographer that deserves crossover success.
November 9 at 4pm
Tickets: 23$ / Students: 19$