As we enter the Grote Zaal at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ on 23 January, we are immediately directed towards the balcony. We take our elevated seats in complete darkness. As the only source of light, there is a central light, orbiting around itself. In this dimmed space, we see square patterns taped on the floor and four figures, each standing on one corner of the square.

This double bill Drawings starts with a mysterious atmosphere.

Force Field by Hugo Morales Murguia is a mesmerizing sonic and visual experience. In this penumbrous ambiance, piercing tones and sparkling sounds inhabit the space. Slowly we see that each musician is wearing a small rectangular solar panel on their chest. This ingenious light-sensitive system is what generates the sounds. Each armed with a flashlight and a device that seems to produce real sparkles, the performers intervene with precision. By shedding light on the panel they produce variation in sound. Depending on the distance of the light the tones change. Layering movements around the central light and their individual lights, they magically create a layered soundtrack.

After a break, we are invited back, this time, to sit inside the atrium space. Chairs are dispersed in groups of three and four, around the whole space. Five small stages with percussion are placed along the edges of the space. Five performers are casually walking around.

Le noir de l’etoile by Gerard Grisey is a complex piece. The scenography is a perfect accompaniment to the intensity of the musical composition. Sounds travel circularly around the space, swiftly inducing us into a fascinating trip.

The dancers seem to be following some score that mirrors the different textures and volumes proposed by the music.

Marc Vanrunxt’s choreographic contribution is sensibly porous to the setting, yet, overpowered by the grandiosity of the music. Performed with the historically nonchalant performativity of Belgian dance, the bodies respond to or oppose the energy in the room. The role of the skilled bodies didn’t fully crystalize to me. The pedestrian aesthetics of the costumes adds to the feeling that the dancing in this piece is almost an accessory.

The most interesting choreography is performed by the percussionists. Maneuvering all the instruments they each have around with such grace and accuracy almost puts the audience in a state of distress. Any faux-pas could dramatically affect the score.

This evening was a pleasure for the senses. The overall experience of delving into the variety of rhythms and sonic possibilities was almost like a shamanic trip. The drastically different realms proposed by the two works, generously allowed the audience to enter the adventure.

Seen: January 23, 2020, Festival Why Not, Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam. Tour Drawings

Photos: Raymond Mallentjer.

Choreography: Marc Vanrunxt | musical direction: Fedor Teunisse | dance and choreography: Peter Savel, Nathan Ooms, Lise Vachon & Georgia Vardarou | percussionists: Lodewijk Bles, Pepe Garcia, Antoine Josselin, Enric Monfort, Gabriele Segantini, Fedor Teunisse | artistic advise: Marie-Anne Schotte| scenography: Koenraad Dedobbeleer | light: Stef Alleweireldt.