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

Roxana Gramada

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.

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