sâmbătă, 16 iunie 2012

Dry Aesthetics in …The Dry Piece

Keren Levi is a dancer and choreographer coming from Israel, now living in The Netherlands, who has been performing and directing contemporary dancing for 15 years. She toured all over Europe, including Bucharest in 2007 for the contemporary dancing festival “Explore”. Her latest work is “The Dry Piece” (try out at The Grand Theater in Groningen, premiere on the 17th of May 2012 in Utrecht). The show will be touring starting this autumn. Hopefully, it will also come to Romania - who knows - maybe it will be played even in Iasi. Without an explicit narrative intention, the play is presenting simply moments in the evolution of the ideals of female beauty and it confronts the spectator with his or her own prejudices on the subject. Still, it will end up telling us a story about a certain ritualistic - almost Platonist - passage from the perception of the body to the idea of corporeality, and from naked bodies towards their postmodern disappearance beyond the beauty and the beautiful.
The directress of the show considers it to be a “skeptical spectacle”. I think that Keren Levi adopts a dry aesthetics as she objectifies the female body, blaming and criticizing both the equivalence between beauty and perfection, and the actual tendencies and pressures towards cosmetization. Several flashes belonging to an unwritten history of feminine corporality appear in this show. In turns, one can acknowledge classical nudes, images from baroque and naturalistic paintings, but commercial images as well. The show is ambivalently directed in two different directions: the myth and fascination of the female beauty and ritualization, on the one hand, and the unspelling and profanation of the mystery female body, by letting us see it “without make-up”.
The show is performed by four professional female dancers: Mari Matre Larsen, Tijana Prendovic, Orfee Schuijt și Eva Susova. The dancers are completly naked on the white stage. They expose their body to the camera, and to the light and shadows. But the dancers are protected from the eyes of the spectators in a way, in the sense that there is a transparent screen between the dancers and the audience. Only in very few of the moments of the show do the dancers let themselves to be seen outside the white stage, in the dark side of the big stage. Above the white stage there is a camera that films live and projects the images on the transparent screen. This is how the spectator sees real images as well as virtual images taken from above.
In terms of the choreography of the show, I remarked a certain balancing between classical and contemporary, Pitagoreic symmetry and harmony, and modern asymmetry and improvisation. The dancers’ evolution on the white stage seems to be following a scenario made up of several scenes. Sometimes they are accompanied by the original soundtrack signed by Tom Parkinson, sometimes they are evolving “dry”. The introduction is relevant for Keren Levi’s dry aesthetics, as she uses it to question the ideas of corporality and beauty. And it is exactly when she decides to introduce the key that she wants such ideas to be read into: the body of the woman is objectified, nudity is idealized, and beauty is considered with ironical detachment. Keren Levi inspiringly uses the chance games invented by Cage and Cunningham in a very original manner. The show is composed of several parts that succeed one another: first, there is “Hollywood”, inspired by the famous musicals Berkeley made in the 30s, when the bodies of the four woman-dancers shape beautiful kaleidoscopes, playing on the classical tune of beauty; second, there is “Las Vegas”, when the body is exposed in such a freely way that the show meets pornography (the body of the woman is seen as a sexual object). Third, there is “The Myth of the Cave”, when the four white bodies appear onto stage doubled by their black shadows; now the choreographer uses improvisation based on a score. The spectator may get the impression that there are prisoners from Plato’s cave, fighting to get rid of the strings attaching them to their own ignorance. Among the twist and turn of the multitude of serpent-like human and shadowy members of the body, for just one second, the classical image of “Laocoon and his sons” can be captured. More than once, the body of the woman was shown as defeminized, even masculinized. Therefore, I assume there is a message beyond the first order declared feminism.
In the following of the show, chance games are used again and the dancers rhythmically, staccato, as if in tribal ritual, seem to throw their arms out of their shoulders, rip their skin from their bones, brealk their ankles, and drop off their heads. The bodies become black silhouettes, manipulated under stroboscopic lights. Another light, representing the fire of Plato’s cave, is continually being projected from the background during the last moments of the show. The very last part of the show (“the disappearance”) etherizes and eventually volatilizes the four bodies. They melt into the idea of corporality: the idea of nakedness replaces the naked bodies. The spectator’s perceiving has passed from concrete nudity under all its forms (art, pornographic magazines or videos) towards abstraction. The show ends with a spectral white image. So the composition is placed under the postmodern “beyond” (beauty). After a significant silence, the dancers show themselves ompletely dressed in front of the transparent screen.

Dana Tabrea


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