“Dancing Ring – One to All,” the accidental love affair with a speaker

She stands petite, charcoal black clad, almost undefined against the pitch black curtains, face to face with an invested object of desire: a speaker. And then dialogue, more like the passion, ensues. She approaches inquiringly, looks into the speaker’s clarion, intrigued, searching. Once she touches it, they are not to be parted, in dynamic and dramatic symbiosis.

The fervour, curiosity and adoration Mihaela Dancs expends into the speaker is tantamount to great romantic themes, hence the need for its meaning. As befalls the medium of contemporary dance, meaning can only be extracted from continuous investigation of facts, through all senses summoned.

For Dancs, that means sound and touch, paired in vibration, which her body is keen to experience throughout the show, hungry to have sound enter it from all over. And she must love it enough for the source of it to become her lover’s next of kin. The beanie drawn over her eyes clearly advertises both blind love and futility of sight.

At first, she drips on it, longing for love, or jumps with childish excitement. There seems to be a response, as the groovy, almost clubby beats make way for a brief Oui, je t’aime” tune. Like a lover reaching second base, she hugs the speaker.

From here onwards, it becomes mostly mechanical. Dancs’s body trembles, convulses and contorts in synch with the minimalist beats, owning the rhythm. By the end of the show, the speaker will have touched every part of her body, and she will have let the metallic sound permeate her in frantic or awkward sex like mechanics, fragile equilibrium on the speaker, balancing it on her head, or letting herself crushed by it to the floor. Not without humour, she even carries it as a snail does its house, a curt intermission to the violence of their relationship.

Through all this, her movement is precise, minute and articulate. I catch myself connecting her accuracy to her previous profession, which Dancs left in 2008. What an expressive stomatologist she must have been.

It remains unclear wether her object of desire is delivering any catharsis, the few seconds she stands on it, right after bending over and losing her beanie, in a telling image of a spider like creature with music coming out of it, the balance is rather fragile.

If she has been chained to the speaker, if it had been her baggage, there is however, a deliverance. Dancs leaves the clearly marked ring and stands undefined against the black curtains, by her technical crew, hoodie over her head, like a buddhist on the sides of the temple garden. She even takes the applauses with them. A whirlwind in the ring, the former MD is shy off it.

As we meet after her performance, she has transformed into your typical, though chic, bookworm, large glasses pinched to the nose, in oversized coat and boyfriend jeans. I would have easily placed her on green campus lawns, coffee in hand, running to class.

“I had grown into a strange attachment to the speaker when I first did the show,” confesses an amused Dancs. “And it’s quite interesting, I did not intend the love affair at all. What I was interested in was how my body reacts to this very strong stimulus, which is music. Music enters us through ears, but I wanted to see what happens if it enters me through the chest, or the knee, or my lower back, or my perineum. Sometimes I feel air coming out of that speaker. The sound makes my body move to a rhythm, most times that of the music, it’s this repetitive movement…, the speaker starts moving too, and the object gives me something back, like ping pong. You vibrate with something.”

“It’s very subtle and very deliberate, everything from her movement to her choice of music,” says a proud friend. “It was interesting, but very violent,” comments a cultured Frenchman.

To Claire Garand, the show was “very poignant, physically and intellectually, physically because the basses were quite strong, taking in the audience, and intellectually because it is about the relationship between a human and an object, not an intelligent object, but an intermediary, transmitting something other than itself, and with whom there is an evolving relationship all throughout the performance. First there was surprise, then the show makes you enter a dream like state, because of the rhythm, of the repeated gestures, the chained movement. I am not a regular contemporary dance goer, but I love seeing anything that surprises me, makes me question, and learn. This is a register of movement that works the body and the space quite differently, delirious and inquisitive at the same time.”

*Text written with the occasion of the Contemporary dance season CNDB – Bucharest in movement, 2017.

The Contemporary dance season CNDB – Bucharest in movement, 2017 cultural project is supported within the cultural program Bucharest participatory city, by the Bucharest Mayor’s Office through the Bucharest Cultural Centre ARCUB.

Stardust and unicorns in “37 minutes of make believe”

Andreea Novac is not your ordinary dancer. She welcomes you to her show, invites you to make yourself at home then says she’ll be right back. And as the mostly female audience oozes to Beatles’ “Oh! Darling” (please believe me), she goes behind the curtain to exchange her (really fit) soccer mom outfit, jeans, sneakers and all for bright red socks, rainbow coloured yoga pants and a dark green top.

 

She then proceeds into speech. In Novac’s performance, in the beginning there was the word, proclaiming the rules of her space. “There is no sky, no vodka, no pain.” There are also no emotions, she claims, but I later come to believe she means there are no emotions right now. She then translates from word into action, announcing movement, then stepping into it. It eventually builds into dance only speed, but it doesn’t all come at once.

 

In-between there are the bodily equivalents of Magritte’s “ce n’est pas un pipe.” After introducing her dance, Novac defines it as what it is not, taking that aside from the white floor to make space for what it actually is. “This is Rio de Janeiro from the front. And this is Rio de Janeiro from behind,” she breaks matter of factly, body erect, arms to the side, quite like the statue. Muffled laughter erupts here and there. She even puts into act the awkwardness of her would be classic ballet class, and the audience echoes her own amusement.

 

Only then does Novac’s athletic body burst into dance, alternating cadet like sprints to angular, decomposed movement, to flow, but always in dialogue with her public. When connection is complete, she attempts audacious communion, channeling the crowd in, she a medium to their choreography wishes. Her body is playful, irreverent like a puppy in the sun, flows, rolls and stacks itself and I caught myself moving in my chair, as if tuning in to her.

 

Catching her breath, Novac switches back into conversation, raining a torrent of sensation invoking questions, from hot sands, to green dewy grass, to bone breaking hugs. I’m still thinking of my summer at the beach when I see her leaning on three fans, as if over some ritual drums, blowing pink, scarlet and golden glitter in the wind. And then, like a unicorn, it was all gone.

 

“It surprised me, the spoken part. It took me a while to adjust.” “I did not expect it but I liked it,” said two friends, seeing such a performance for the first time. “I liked it a lot, actually. The atmosphere, the performance, it made me ask myself questions about living and experiencing the moment,” said Johan, the Dutch half of a clearly in love couple. Diana, the Romanian, completes him: “It suggested there is no emotion, but by the end I had forgotten that. The impact at the end was very powerful, what she said, the questions, I felt them on my own skin, … and the glitter. It made me think of all that is beautiful, of love, of how he makes things…” She chokes a bit and then adds “I could not stop crying a bit.”

 

“I liked Andreea, diplomatic and sensitive, and I see how the story was built with the audience. I recalled my walks on hot sand. The improv seemed very authentic,” offered another Diana, head shaved and cool looking in large knits. Her friend, Dan, had been following Andreea for a long time. “I felt the deconstructions, but I thought the make believe message landed well. We were there with her.” And “the ending made her and the show sparkle,” added Diana.

 

Still all glitter behind the scene, Novac is enthused by what her show conjured for her public. “My power is to imagine. I’ve always been told I am a dreamer. I create worlds. Emotion shows up, but that is not what I am after. My stake is with this whirlwind of questions that bring answers, all shuffling until it is not clear what is reality and what is… anyway this is how we remember, we don’t remember what was, but how we need to remember.”

 

*Text written with the occasion of the Contemporary dance season CNDB – Bucharest in movement, 2017.

 

The Contemporary dance season CNDB – Bucharest in movement, 2017 cultural project is supported within the cultural program Bucharest participatory city, by the Bucharest Mayor’s Office through the Bucharest Cultural Centre ARCUB.

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