A late Saturday night wandering through Vienna with the Willi Dorner company (13 October 2007).
bodies in urban space is a wonderful sculptural event. It’s really not dance, although only dancers or acrobats could perform it convincingly. All of the statues are comprised of live dancers.
There must have been about twenty sculptures in what ended up being an over an hour long walk through much of Vienna’s 16th district.
In their hoodies, the dancers were almost anonymous. You had no idea who was performing without looking at the program. Curiously, despite the anonymity Willi Dorner used many of Vienna’s best dancers for this project.
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When watching Edouard Lock’s work, one leaves the ordinary world behind.
There are no dishes to wash, no cellphones, no laundry no bills to pay except dues of the heart.
This otherworldliness can be disconcerting. Suddenly we have walked into a nineteenth century romantic poem. Only beauty and overwhelming sentiment.
The dancing in Amjad is exceptional. It is quick and lithe. Expressive and mysterious at the same time.
The lighting of Amjad is high contrast spots against an entirely darkened stage. Pools of light in shadows. Each dancer is clad in strict black, their costumes as elegant as if they came from a Dior Haute Couture collection. The astringent black and white costumes did recall in a curious way Marie Chouinard’s bODY_rEMIX from 2005 – credit in both cases to Vulcan who gave up fashion to serve dance instead.
We are seeing properly schooled dancers, with enormous natural talent, working at the peak of their abilities in original choreography. With La La Human Steps, we are a long, long way from the youngsters who have decided to stop taking class and boycott movement on the dance stages of Vienna and Paris. The road up Parnassus is long and hard – and Edouard Lock and La La Human Steps have made that long trek.
Amjad is what they have brought back for us.
A frames from the Amjad film (Lock and Turpin)
When the show starts Ann Liv Young is in a white leotard with her dark nipples visible through the white cloth and with an enormous pregnant belly…. You missed plastic horses You missed a Christian radio show bestrewn with live musical performance and obscene call ins. You missed small plastic horses across the stage with a wooden toy castle – the world of fairy tales.
The premise of Cat in a deep freeze is simple enough. A person lays down in the ice and fades away to death. Saskia Hölbling would like to take us on this journey. The piece opens and closes with beautifully spoken texts on mortality written by the artist inciting us to “melt the ice of power”.
In the cold, one’s head finally clears. Peace at last. The body contracts into what is most necessary. The heart beats tangibly. The breath is short and shallow. Something starts to move and leaves the body behind to its pleasant paralysis.
Cat in a deep freeze – Saskia Hölbling/Dans.Kias
Hölbling’s own interest in death by freezing arose when she learned last year that its eponym: “the sweet death”. Apparently one gradually fades away with no pain, just feeling slowly disappearing from the body and the breath growing fainter. Having spent a lot of time snowshoeing in cold climates like Manitoba, I’ll agree that this is probably how it happens. The real danger with death by freezing is belated rescue. If you don’t finish the job, you’ll end up with hands and feet cut off on account of the frost bite.
A full fading away in the cold is what Cat in a deep freeze investigates. It’s a curious enough premise for a dance piece. It has nothing to do with human interaction. The piece mirrors a biological transformation. Cold is the opposite of dance. One is generally moved to dance by the heat.
People dance more in summer. People dance more in hot climates. People dance more in hot night clubs.
Unsurprisingly given the chill theme, movement in Cat in a deep freeze is minimalist, at least for the first two thirds of the piece. For minutes at a time, a single foot circumscribes the air. Yet there is a tension in the movement. Saskia Hölbling describes the movement throughout the piece as intense. And so it is.