[dance-tech] Re: Atmospheric studies/compositions

  • From: "Johannes Birringer" <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 20:14:43 +0100

Nick wrote: 
I'm curious: what "political response" are you referring to? 

I was referring to the surprising fact that the work is been "read" as a 
powerful poiltical, anti-American statement,
that it is being refered to as "Baghdad Ballet"  ("As this new production 
tackles the Iraq war, choreographer tells why no art form better captures the 
horrors and hypocrisies of conflict.."   The Guardian), that it is compared to 
Goya's "Desastres de la guerra", and that its content indeed takes off from a 
war photograph, among other visual sources. 

I alse note that its focus and tone shifted, from the original premieres in 
Frankfury (2005), which seemed perfectly in keeping with Forsythe's  cold and 
intelligent formalism, a brilliant complex deconstructive formalism (in 2005 
not danced too well, though, compared to Frankfurt Ballet  standards).  

You mention "Kammer / Kammer", and it is interesting that it affacted you more. 
 You call it emotionally charged, and perhaps this charge is also what many 
felt in last week's performance in London, although it still escapes me  ?-  
this is something I found out from Freya Vass-Rhee, a researcher who is 
currently with the company to work on a study of dance perception from a 
cognitive science angle ?  why CNN would come to speak to Forsythe and consider 
his new work a political event rather than an aesthetic one. 

I don't think it was a political event at all. The work left me cold 
(intellectually/politically), ande of course it is meangless in any political  
or media context.  
But it was extremely fascinating to watch, including its visual chargedness,  
on various other levels of composition and performance interaction  (dance, 
spoken word, aria, reactive-amplified sound, live sound/digital distortion 
(with greetings from Laurie Anderson, circa 1988) , scenic images, art 
historicial references, "photo-realisms," etc), and it would be intriguing if, 
as a critical discussion platform here,  we could take some of the proposals 
from transubstantiate's parameters regarding the 'improvised', 'computational' 
and 'conceptual' composition in dance and performance technologies (dance & 
perf-tech) praxis.  

Maybe, if we delved into a debate, someone could even unravel why this work is 
also a political composition [what is this?, compared to an activist or 
interventionist practice?] and not a dance piece about the weather and 
atmospheric disturbance.  It probably never was 'about" something as banal and 
concrete. Of course not.  But peformance claiming for itself interventionist 
powers or critical subversive powers reminds me of the "human 
rights/performance rights' discourse of academic conferences such as Psi12 
(last june).  Strangely unreal events.  All the more puzzling to hear that 
Forsythe worked on an installation on human rights (he calls it "Human Writes", 
and the Derridadevil is still spooking).

I would propose we discuss the compositional levels. They are fascinating.  For 
all those who could not see the work yet (it has traveled widely), and may not 
have seen the program, I will in my next mail post the excellent essay that was 
given to the audience.  Perhaps the descriptive analysis can usher in a debate.

Johannes Birringer
DAP-Lab, London 

...Nick wrote
>>I've   read a couple of reviews, both of which describe the work pretty  
accurately in terms of its effect. I'm trying to remember what the  
company were saying about the reception they received in Paris...


I see it's been challenged in the media with the usual "is it dance"  
question (even though the company no longer has "Ballett" in its  
name), but it comes across to me, in form, as a standard Forsythe  
work, with constructions of sound, dramaturgy, movement and staging.  
What makes it unusual, of course, is that it's so politically highly  
charged; given that, its power comes from Forsythe's deftness of  
process, preventing the work from being too literal or prescriptive,  
too much of a rant or a sermon.

Politics aside, I personally felt that Kammer/Kammer was more  
emotionally charged. (Again, Dana and Jone in key roles of both  
narrative and movement.)

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