Stating The Obvious
How do dance makers turn ideas into movement? Or: what is a dancing body saying? Or: does the dance follow the music, or is it the other way around and does music flow from dance? If you have ever wondered, you could go and see Stating The Obvious by Ingrid Berger Myrhe, which premiered 7 October at Theater Rotterdam.
Dansateliers production house supports Myrhe, who with a quirky sense of humour ponders on the relationship between language and movement. In the process they turn the framework of what constitutes a performance inside out, light-heartedly making their viewers conscious of the building blocks that go unnoticed in a ‘finished’ dance show. Three performers in tracksuit pants and sweaters are on the floor. Georgia Boddez, Calvin Ferdinando Carrier and Némo Flouret address the audience directly as they explain what they have just done, sticking strips and balls of tape on the floor: they have demarcated a space and positioned themselves. Here’s your first step in creating dance.
How to load this space with meaning? From the most dangerous place in the room (standing directly underneath a heavy speaker hanging from the grid), or the most visible, or the most concentrated, they pick big words to add a layer. One example: “Let’s create an architectural movement.” What does this mean? Of course, it means a multitude of things to a multitude of people. So the execution, by three bodies, leads to some confusion. On and on the three of them keep offering each other words and concepts to explore in movement, in positioning, in body attitude. Some words lead to jumps, others to running, rolling, crouching, rotating. But never the same in all three bodies. Of course not. We laugh at the bodies conforming to linguistic meaning.
What else does it take? Music. Sound designer Lasse Passage offers two seconds of music for a movement sequence in which “the ending is more important than the beginning”. Guess where he places his micro-composition. Two guitars, a shaker, and three singing voices flesh out the musical element. But when Georgia Boddez dances briefly to no words at all, it’s the first time the physical action resonates with our bodies. Behind the laughter is a crack in the hypothesis that dance and language must somehow correspond. The two forms of communication don’t function in interchangeable ways.
photos: Anna van Kooij
Suddenly, Calvin Ferdinando Carrier is no longer making sense. In words, that is. The dance he is doing may not be as straightforward as a jig or a jive, but it has a logic that can be followed on an intuitive level. He starts his sequence speaking and executing steps and gestures at the same time. These correspond less and less with each other until he is no longer making sense. That’s when my brain latches on to the movement and begins to ignore the words. My mind stops looking for words to capture what I’m seeing.
Stating The Obvious is a thinking piece about movement. It’s very meta. An understated lightness pervades, and the bodies are kept from fully using their potential to speak for themselves, for a long time. But it does bring across a valid point: that the soul needs both a cerebral outlet and a physical one. That is why we (watch) dance.
Choreography: Ingrid Berger Myhre | performers: Georgia Boddez, Calvin Ferdinando Carrier, Némo Flouret | music and sound design: Lasse Passage | live song: “Do you believe” – Calvin and Némo | scenography: Edwin Kolpa | lighting design: Edwin van Steenbergen | costumes : Min Li | in conversation with Merel Heering.