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Tanzquartier Wien: Willi Dorner – 404

At last, in Vienna, this year, some exciting dance.

The idea is simple enough. A guitar player sits at the front of the state on the right hand side and strums lightly when we come in.

At the begining of the piece seven dancers come in, four women and three men. They are all wearing street clothes or some version thereof. Jeans and t-shirts or simple dress shirts.

For some reason the colour gamut is very 1970’s. Lots of browns, greens, oranges and purple.

The guitarist introduces them quickly in order, as they make a staggered line across the stage.

One of the men stands still facing the audience. A blonde woman wraps one arm around his neck. He tries to break free. She holds him, as he moves harder ever more desparate to rid himself of his burden as she is ever more desparate to clutch him to her.

Gradually the music build and the other dancers join in what seems a spontaneous exploration of relationships. Sometimes, two women dance, sometimes two women and one man, sometimes two men and one woman.

The movement is sharp and energetic, with inventive holds and falls.

After about twenty minutes, a martial soundtrack theme (Star Wars) rises while the guitar plays on.

All of the dancers fall down dead.

Breaking glass and screaming. Contorted hands. Two women wrestle painfully, pushing one another into the floor.

Again this a synthetic film theme (think Top Gun/Star Wars) rises over the guitar, even stronger.

Willi Dorner 404

Movement is every more violent. The dancers move into turbulent threesomes. Three women and three men. Holding and falling in the musical crescendo.

Silence. Stillness.

We are at one half-hour now. The emotional peak was powerful and complete.

A natural end to the piece.

Our emotions are wrung out now. The rest of the performance seems more a post-script than anything else.

We have leisure to wonder about the return of the 70’s aesthetic (wasn’t it bad enough the first time), to enjoy the delicate slice of hip offered by the low slung pants of the blonde, to observe the mix and match couples dance. None of it however has the intensity and purpose of the first half of the performance.

The high point of part two is the musical performance of Martin Philadelphy on guitar. None of the mumbling that the small scruffy bearded Philadelphy has done to this point hints at the voice he reveals in a rich REM-like ballad.

The words are something about the scent of someone’s skin.

Shortly thereafter the guitarist manages to create an awful melodic racket (think of Neil Young and Crazy Horse) by himself.

All the dancers are gone now. A final chord of the guitar.

The guitarist leaves through the audience.

Stage of life empty. The feedback buzzes on.

The audience brought the performers back for three curtain calls.

Willi Dorner in 404 has clearly demonstrated for all who would care to see that the conceptual need not be static, that there is scant excuse to waste dancers in non-movement.

The performances were energetic but precise, the movement violent but controlled. While there was no clear story, one could imagine many stories to each of the phrases of dance.

In the program notes, Willi Dorner refers to the theme in these terms:

404 – not found (web chat slang/http://error message) – having notclue an inability to connect

It is a joy to see dance which brings pleasure to its participants and to the audience again.

Happily enough next week is the Gervasi Company. The Tanzquartier is spoiling us in the New Year.

Performers: Chloé Attou, Karmit Burian, Heide Kinzelhofer, Holly Warren, Jarek Cemerek, Martin Dewez, David Zagari. Guitarist: Martin Philadelphy. Photographs © Lisa Rastl

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