Televangelism and looking sideways

For Paris dance fans who want to explore beyond the somewhat conventional programming (except for Indian dance) in Théâtre de la Ville, the Rencontres choréographiques internationales de la Seine-Saint-Denis are a key opportunity for discovering younger and sometimes more original choreographers. This week-end, La Chaufferie staged a trio of An Kaler and a solo of Lisbeth Gruwez.

Lisbeth Gruwez has collaborated with Jan Fabre. However, where the signs of violence staged by Fabre have seemed gratuitous to me, uselessly schocking, Lisbeth Gruwez captures our attention for 45 minutes, during which one must remind oneself to breathe from time to time, in an enigmatic but strongly self-enclosed piece. Starting from the sound recording of an American televangelist, she samples it in segments at the scale of a word or an expression. In an artful synchronization, she invokes the words by her gestures, reassembling them in sentences, then modifying these sentences, up to the appearance of their apocalyptical warnings. She is then precipitated in a possessed trance and its radiant but still defiant conclusion. The enigmatic aspect lies in the fact that one cannot truly know if the intention is denunciatory or simply descriptive. One remains speechless, and Saturday’s audience rightly expressed its enthusiasm.

An Kaler "Insignificantothers" General probe

I wanted to see the choreography of An Kaler, a young Autrichian. It is titled “Insignificant others” but it is the subtitle that raised my attention (because of a literary work on peripheral vision that I am pursuing): “learning to look sideways”. The piece is constructed as a series of scenes where the three beautiful dancers are sometimes close to each other, sometimes remote, sometimes mixed in fast movements whose main challenge is the avoidance of physical contact. Each of the scenes has its own quality. For instance, when the dancers are positioned too close to each other for not looking directly at the other being natural, a real tension is created, their slow displacements almost unnoticed until they modify the perspective because a face is hidden behind another or reappears. The transitions between scenes seemed not truly worked out to me, leaving an overall impression of unaccomplishment.

Of course, it is impossible for looks not to cross each other. First almost by mistake, then, for a very brief conclusion, in a splendid smile. Peripheral vision would thus owe its virtues mostly to the moment at which it is gives way to crossing eyes, for three dazzling seconds. Timid applause Sunday, for what seemed to me deserving more encouragement.

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