A New Dawn

Combining visual arts, live (electronic) music and dance, A new dawn by REDO, Binkbeats and Dominique is drenched in a sense of curiosity and discovery. Although in the broader scheme of things, there is nothing remotely new or dawning to this interdisciplinary meeting, the committed yet playful exploration by all agents involved makes it exciting to watch. The concert, a techno-popular step up from commercial towards performance happening, speaks to more than one sense alone. Seen at Utrecht’s TivoliVredenburg during the Birds of Paradise Festival on 13 March.

Directed for the stage by Peter Leung, the piece is divided into three modules. Each module has set parts and players, but there is room reserved for the appearance of the event. Meaning: what we see is partly a result of a particular and unique meeting of sound, movement and visuals in a certain place and at a certain time. This becomes more apparent in the last two modules.

After having seen and heard solos by all the bodies involved on stage – multi-instrumentalist Binkbeats, percussionist Dominique Vleeshouwers and dancers Camilla Blundel, Shane and Ozzy – they start connecting, mingling, influencing each other as they perform. At one point Vleeshouwers grabs a gubal and sits on the floor, mid-stage. Ozzy sits back to back with him, and as they move together giving or receiving each other’s weight they affect each other’s playing, blurring the line between the two mediums. This scene, taken from the first exploratory meeting between Vleeshouwers and dancer REDO (the two initiators of the project), is the best example of the overall poetic aim of the piece.

Projected onto three screens placed as a backdrop to two elaborate percussion/electronic sets, white shapes move on a shadowy grey surface, evolving along a similar idea. Designed and played live by visual artist Noralie, stern geometric shapes such as squares dance to the beat or offbeat in the first module, giving way to more curvilinear designs towards the end. A long, hypnotic sequence in the middle with small rectangular lines falling and recovering like dominoes serves as a beautiful transition between worlds. 

According to the show’s website, the dancers are there to seduce and enchant us, and for us to marvel at: “we fly at dawn, looking for a better future”. And while they do fly and make us marvel – more than levelling up to the brilliant quality of the musical scores – certain dramaturgical choices bring them so close to plain storytelling that the rawness of the event is placed under duress. The three dancers seem to have stepped out of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel. They look at the confines of the stage and touch the air around them as if they were innocent creatures walking in a newfound world.

Seduction is a poetic power. Dance forms as technically demanding and preoccupied by form as ballet or freestyle hip-hop have the capacity to exploit this seductive potential. The wow-factor of their virtuosity, the precise control of musicality and the inescapable humanity of the bodies involved, make these dance forms particularly fit to negotiate between abstract and material worlds. But offering a symbolic meaning to what we can see, as is done here, does the dancers little poetic justice. 

This representation of innocence on stage links to a broader question into the apparent naïveté of the curators. Rather than opening a door to a new tomorrow, A New Dawn feels like further proof that history, when forgotten, tends to repeat itself both on and off stage – and that is not a very hopeful prospect at the moment.

Photos: SWARD Photography

0313 Birds Of Paradise - A New Dawn_Show__ by SWARD27