I went to see the Belgian artist Thierry de Mey's music, movement and film last night at Nanterre's Maison de la Musique just outside of Paris. It is the first time I have seen his work. The first piece was a dance film about 5 minutes long (from the early 80s) that was listed by the name "Dom svobode." A group of about 8 dancers connected by rope harnesses were dancing horizontally against what looks like the side of a cliff. The dancers don't show the effort that must be involved, but you still see the effect on the body of this shift in its relationship with gravity. It seems appropriate that Magritte's bowler hats stayed calmly on the men's heads even at a 90° angle. With such an obvious reference to Magritte's painting and in a work that is so suspended and air-dwelt, one would have thought we would see more sky and air. But the artists chose to accent the rock. We see gravel and dirt falling away under the dancers' feet, and hear it in the soundscape, which makes us feel it even more viscerally. This use of sound as music, or the music of sound, is satisfying, and strongly enhances the experience, transferring their vibrations into our own bodies. The film seemed to cut off abruptly at the end, and left me hanging, suspended, horizontally, a little too far off the ground. It was an interesting glance into a world not my own.
I believe that de Mey said, in his talk after the program, that the second piece, "Tippeke" was also from the 80s. It seems as if it were the result of an intimate collaboration between de Mey and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. I have only seen some of her group work for the stage and while I was not surprised by the power in her movement, I was not expecting the delicacy and fineness of expressive articulation she so fully embodied. The beauty of the madness of the body that does not fit together anymore with itself or with its mind, the body that cannot bear itself. It touches us, uncomfortably in all its sensuality, and I felt pity for her. Her story, Tippeke's story, was a simple one, of Tippeke moving through a beautiful autmn or winter wood, not wanting to go home, of the dog who does not want to bite her, of the stick that does not want to hit the dog, of the fire that does not wish to burn the stick, etc. No, no, they say. And the body does not fit itself, as if the inside of the body cannot find its place within its exterior frame, its exterior form. The sound of her feet in the branches and dirt, lovely, the sound of her voice, her breath speaking the words, the cello played live by Eric-Maria Couturier opening and closing the work with soundless gesture, the full soundscape of the score, again so organically integrated into the work that it enhances the experience viscerally yet after a single viewing leaves little trace that can be distinguished apart from the overall work and its impressiond. Fantastic that! The movement is seen and hidden between, behind and through the trees, but she travels far and while she seems a forest creature, she also hovers near the edges of highways, in fields and tunnels, like a lost deer. The beauty of the mist of her breath in the cold -- to see the breath as a dancer moves is a lovely thing... There is a moment of sensual satisfaction when the cat finally says "yes", oh yes, it does want to eat that mouse. And that "yes" changes the entire story thread to an affirmation, of violence and embrace, as the mouse eats the chord that ties the cow, etc. And we wonder what kind of home Tippeke is returning to. But she is returning. And it is her home.
Musiques des Tables (Table Music) was great. Three students from the Conservatoire de Reuil-Malmaison performed the work sitting in three black chairs behind three pine colored tables with microphones beneath them. Wearing black, the lighting focused our eyes on the whiteness of their moving hands, their faces and necks, and the tables, and this enhanced the sense of this being as much a dance as a work of music. The gesture of making sound, and the sound of gestures was marked. It was, indeed, as much a dance for hands as it was a musical work... (to read the entire article, go to: http://annmoradian-perspectives.blogspo ... de-la.html
To see a video of "Table Music," go to: http://annmoradian-perspectives.blogspo ... o-you.html