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Meg Stuart / Damaged Goods

"Alibi"

Internationales Tanzfest Berlin, Tanz im August 2002
Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz

August 30, 2002
By Diane Busuttil


A great opening image of what I coined 'the angry spider'. All seven performers, actors and dancers, lying face down on the floor with their heads in the centre, chanting ranting and raving to each other like a horizontal scrum (as in football). Slowly the bodies began to move their restless legs and the image breaks down like the deconstruction of a scientific formula. This disintegration continues on a psychological and emotional level expressed through intimate, idiosyncratic and volatile movements, swaying between truth and manipulation.

Gradually the dancers disperse into solitary spaces and interact only by hurling themselves at each other with great velocity, the intensity in the music rising to the meet the pace of the dancers? Heartbeats. The dancers are reduced to creatures in their primal yearnings for meaning. Run - scream, come together - fall apart, shut up - talk to me. Random thoughts and actions with included distractions as a reminder of the silence that can never be. The existential confessions of the solo soul wade through a scope of emotions to seek meaning to the madness within their surroundings.

The set design is an extremely desolate urban space, unfinished and incomplete, matching the ideas that present themselves throughout the piece. There is an observation box to the right of the set from which dancers can view performers in the main space and make comments via a microphone. To me, this white box represented many things; at first embarrassing the role of voyeur, then as judge or inner critic, and at other times simply a place to rest, observe and/or imitate the dancers in the main space.

Conflict - contradiction, where is the privacy in this tumultuous space - Conflict - no resolution, running away or running toward? Occasionally their eyes engage directly with the audience. Are we one and the same? Are they merely mirroring our thoughts? Pedestrian clothes and occasional pedestrian moves.

Singular - disparate, LISTLESS, unfocused and direct. The dancers' land upon life in a scope of possible emotive states and it uncovers them along the way, occasionally observing themselves in a calmer state of rest, wait and play. Idiosyncratic movements speak of inner conflict and struggle. Stop. Doubt. Boredom.

Projected images of a series of empty rooms; the possibilities waiting like an eager artist to a blank canvas. The performers are vulnerable and exposed, scrutinized by a video camera and one dancer who is selling their traits to the audience (reference to reality television). The coin flips and the presenter sells her wares to the audience, confessing that she will do anything you desire to make you love her, the empty room inside of her is waiting and wanting to be filled, suggesting? What shall I do / who shall I be to make you love me?

More guilt-free confessions from Davis Freeman as he closes the gap between himself and audience, allowing us all to bask in the knowledge that we are human, we make mistakes, and sometimes we just don't care at whose expense.

Alibi reflects ideas drawing from current cultural stimuli and brings to the fore the act of self-observation, voyeurism and scrutiny of others. The ultimate question being, what do we hold on to to keep ourselves together? I enjoyed the loaded meaning in their listless and bored moments, I asked myself if there is ever really any peace to be found in solitude and how many distractions and inner contradictions does one have to overcome before arriving at the point of stillness and inner peace?

The performance is book ended with a physical state of continuous chaos. Although there was no feel good happy ending, I felt completely satisfied by the forms of truth the performers revealed during this epic 2 hour and 15 minute performance. The closing image of each dancer's shaking body reverberates the inner disease that inevitably remains. Here I am reminded again of the angry spider that is perhaps struggling inside of them trying to get out.

 

Please join a discussion of this performance in our forum.

Edited by Marie.


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