Stardust and unicorns in “37 minutes of make believe”

Roxana Gramada

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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