Saturday, November 28, 2009

Modern Dance_a burning obsession

Years ago I shot some pictures for a gentleman and his wife; Both were movers and shakers in the art scene here in London, Ontario. As payment for my work they gave me not just cash, always nice, but tickets for two to each show at a local theatre.

Of all the theatre stuff I was exposed to in those 12-months, I think the modern dance nights were my favourites. I knew very little about modern dance but by then end of the year I was making the drive to Toronto to catch the Danny Grossman Dance Company and attending the Joffrey Ballet in New York. When the touring arm of the Joffrey stopped in London, I made sure I was there.

For me, the best modern dance was imaginative and visually witty with a patina of surrealism. I would go on about the "incongruous juxtapositions" but I never felt comfortable with that talk in art school and I am not about to get into it now.

The only way to make such a conversation work is to get a good group of friends, a couple of jugs of beer and lots of pub-popcorn and peanuts and then, and only then, is it possible to launch into a discussion of what it means to conduct an entire dance routine under a bright red sheet of lycra stretched tautly over an entire stage. The dancers are never seen. All we see are the moving, expanding and contracting bulges, the result of the dancers performing under the distorted fabric.

All the foregoing was an introduction to this video by Memo Akten.

This video is an off-shoot from a visual performance accompanying the Rambert Dance Company at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank, London UK . . . When the clip starts, you probably won't recognize a human shape, but your eyes and mind will be searching, seeking mental connections between abstract shapes and recognizable patterns, like looking for shapes in clouds. You'll be questioning what you see, is that him? is he sitting? is he crouching? is he kneeling? until all of a sudden, he'll be crystal clear . . .

The dancers are Robin Gladwin and Miguel Altunaga. Choreography by Alexander Whitley.

Reincarnation from Memo Akten on Vimeo.


1 comment:

  1. That was very mesmerizing. It would make an interesting painting. Christine