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Dance Umbrella 2007

Andreja Rauch - 'Weavers'

by Annie Wells

October 25, 2007 -- Greenwich Dance Agency, London, UK

There was a certain amount of cynicism in my reaction to Andreja Rauch’s Weavers, a work in four parts in performance until Saturday, 27th October, at the Greenwich Dance Agency for Dance Umbrella 2007. From a starting position on The Borough Hall Balcony where part one, Spring Water, a stage-spanning film of Rauch and Henry Montes dancing in a cave-like space was shown, audience members were moved down to the main space. ‘Here we go again...’ I thought.

The limited number of one hundred or so spectators was directed to sit on one of the Ikea-style boxes randomly scattered about the space. I did so with a degree of resistance and unease that  increased when the emerging group of performers began bit-by-bit to reorganise each seat and its occupant into a more linear configuration. This had audience members facing each other in two or three rows deep and redefined the space as a corridor.

Having tucked my bag and coat under my box I really didn’t want to be unsettled. But once I had prepared myself both physically and mentally for the possibility that I might be the next to be moved, I found myself relaxing. Feeling less tense, I appreciated the aesthetic quality of the all-encompassing movement part two, Pavers ('the endless displacement of sediment deposited through time), was creating .

It was as if the dancers had sensed my ‘keep-away’ vibes. Where others were displaced three or four times, misery guts was left alone. I was almost disappointed. But the resistance and fear quickly returned when I realised the rearrangements had taken me out of the safe place at the back where I had purposefully sat. Instead I was now, to my annoyance, right in the firing-line of what I had decided was obviously going to be a very dangerous front row.

As predicted, a dancer approached for another 'near-miss'. But thank goodness for him and me he took the bag of the girl seated immediately beside me. Along with a shoe and a scarf ‘snatched’ from other audience members, this item played an essential role in the narrative part three Two Gatherers. Since it wasn’t me who had to get up to retrieve my property, I’ll concede this was reasonably successful and even, dare I say it, humorous in the way it made its point about 'human attachment to people and objects'.

I found that the final part, Weavers, opened the floodgates to all the positives aspects of the work that had valiantly been fighting to emerge all evening. Based thematically on weaving a pattern into a carpet, the five dancers comprehensively concluded the performance in a profoundly gratifying pure dance section. I particularly loved how the group swept up and down the space, running their bodies in and out of gravity-defying tilts to the ground.

As the section consolidated each plasticine-soft, body-logical and organically-authentic movement that had occurred throughout, I began retrospectively to value the privilege and benefit of being invited so deep into the performance space. Rather than distrusting the proximity, I found myself embracing the risk of being seated in the dancers’ collision path and feeling intense pleasure in the breeze their motion left on my face.

There was a fantastic moment at the end when the dancers returned to share their drinks with the audience after the applause. This completely won me over. I’d therefore recommend anyone to go and see what they make of this promising young Slovenian’s dance-maker’s not perfect or totally original, but ultimately appealing and often pertinent work.

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