FIRST IMPRESSION: GROUP 1 & 3

Light snow flurry marks the beginning of short performances by six groups. Created within less than two days, these theatrical sketches symbolically close the first half of the workshop. Six tents will be transformed into six temporal and performative worlds lasting for brief 15 minutes each.

 

Group 1

 

On the rooftop terrace three bodies lay covered with peddle, leaving only faces visible. Faces start to chatter – their jokes establish satiric atmosphere that is suddenly interrupted by the monologue of a lone girl in a black coat. She’s from Palestine and she speaks about the atrocities of occupation. Her words are intimate and personal, they move from female indemnity to politics, however one can clearly feel the words rely heavily on emotion and much less on thought.

 

Animalistic character appears in the tent. His movements resemble monkey while he suspiciously interacts with the audience. Intruder hits hanging metal sheet with a stone, signifying changes of action. Interchangeably and sometimes concomitantly three narrative lines are being developed, rarely forming relations between each other.

 

Suddenly, intensity of the performance increases, as girl starts speaking in Arabic. Next to her, animal-man starts throwing clay at the other girl. This moment is truly a pinnacle of the performance, where an abrupt relation, between two woman of distant cultures, is formed. Oppression becomes real and symbolic, as clay hits shivering body. Monologue sounds forceful and convincing, as Arabic words slashes through the wintry silence.

 

End of the performance brings no reconciliation between different narrative lines. Interactions remain vague, guided by singular moments of brilliance. Once again it felt that we are caught in unsatisfying thirst for meaning. Thirst that is palliated only by power of emotions.

 

 

Uncommonly cold April’s weather created compelling context for the third performance, as one of inspirations of Group 3 was Stranvinsky’s the Rite of Spring. Six actors show up in front of the audience. Slowly their faces are covered with grey clay. The rite begins, and just like in the original version, here spring becomes volatile metaphor.

 

Six actors extend their tongues, testing the extremes that their body can endure. Careful movement continues, absorbing the whole face, that is explored by soiled hands. Logic of purifying ritual is reversed – body is smeared, cleanliness becomes an illusion imposed by moral and religious dogma. The face, the mirror of the soul, is tainted, but that doesn’t stop the rite. Maybe in the world obsessed by sterility understand owns body means getting dirty.

 

Abrupt shift of music decontextualizes the performance. Aggravated dance music invigorates performers bodies, forming a reference to contemporary dance parties. Yet this party has an uncanny quality. It reminds more of techno fuelled contemporary Danse Macabre, that regular all-nighter. Repetitive and minimalist movement renders feeling that we’re witnessing something else than cheerful celebration.

 

This feeling grows stronger, as third part offers slow tempo and intimate examination of exhausted bodies. Temporary coupling of dancers poses a question about sensual exploration and attachment. Are we confined to binary connections as a final destination of human relations and intimacy? Can we expect and experience something different?

 

Performance ends with a final change of tempo. Taj Mahal by Jorge Ben Jor starts blasting from the speakers, as dancers burst into the audience. For a moment people are dancing together. Last part feels excessive, but at the same time pleasing. If life in a surplus society taught us something, that is to enjoy this excess. For better or for worse.

Tautvydas Urbelis

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