What’s in a “Torsion”?

Roxana Gramada

The title is, actually, very accurate. The show is about the act of twisting and turning. As with all metaphors, it’s all in the how.

It opens to grand Hollywood airs, the ‘30s type you expect grand cabaret ballet corps to flood the stage on, plumed, long legged and all smiles. It’s the Overture from Funny Girl, but the setup is rather austere, an all encircling white screen and two metallic bars suspended midair, perhaps recalling bird swings.

The two dancers that do emerge, in just as grand, reprised tours of the stage, cut definite, all black silhouettes against the white screen. Their explorations, however, could not be more different. One is angular, Matrix like, ample and pointed, the other is undulating, a wavering body.

The light then dims, and Hanauer’s precise and edgy contemplating the rebellion movement takes us into a moony, trance inducing state of mind. A dancer from Solaris, I catch myself thinking. Then Joudkaite enters and proceeds into orbit like twists in space, for what must be over a minute. The two intersect in perfectly timed hugs. Is she searching for the hug, is that a refuge or a random collision? In black leotard, Lora fills the stage in beautiful floating and I have the time to recall images of all things twirling and twisting: a dervish, a ballerina in a box, a planet, a whirlwind, a vortex, a spinning top. She occasionally varies the rhythm, her arms waving in hallucinating ellipses. When she stops, she shows no inertia, stepping away in full control.

Hanauer balances that with movement in perfect sync with Nina Simone’s Feelings, anchoring her body and the audience in a welcome change of rhythm and reality. From where I stand, she looks like she’s wearing loose pants and a tank top, plus a really cool, wide, bracelet on her left arm. It’s actually a prosthesis, but I only see that when we meet after the show.

When Joudkaite returns for a second act of torsion, we are let in her story. She spins and tells a tale of sisterly love, childhood emotions sharable or impossible to, of freedom and letting go. The internal dialogue I echo at times – as Joudkaite compares spinning with watching through the train window, I recall the excitement of my train trips as a child – is then symmetrically closed with Funny Girl’s Overture.

“It was intriguing, there was a lot going on, it almost felt impossible in terms of the physicality of it. The fact that it stayed intriguing all through the one hour was fascinating. For me it’s not something that I understood very well, and maybe that’s the beauty of it. I did not really get the story, but visually it was mesmerising, you can’t keep on spinning like that, you can’t do that, it’s next to impossible,” says Ajay Naqvi, who sometimes goes to contemporary dance shows with this friends.

“Wonderful. When you see show after show for nights on end, you are generally left with a mood, rather than the memory of a gesture. This kind of play, you carry with you for a long time. It also takes you back to your own childhood, to your own states of being, and, what is after all wonderful in theatre and particular to dance, it transports you. And it also slightly challenges your imagination to get in the shoes of the character. You find depth beyond the complexity of movement or its homogeneity. It’s a structure that works with minimal means to give a ravishing set of feelings specifically because the challenge is within, not only on stage. I liked it very much. It is, as I was saying, memorable,” adds Andrei Țărnea.

How can the human being spin for so long, I ask Lora Joudkaite. “I don’t know how to answer that, I don’t know what it means to not turn. I’ve been doing this since childhood. The idea of talking came in rehearsal. Rashid [Ouramdane] said “just speak.” And then I start to turn and speak and explain, travel in my mind, to my childhood. And it’s so private, my sister heard this when I played in Lithuania and said “it’s good at least you didn’t say my name. This is our story, why are you saying this?” I spoke a lot and Rashid made it shorter and then I needed to learn it. I said it in English, in German, I am learning it in French, for he Africa tour. Russian, too. The turning bars are Rachid’s idea, but for us, we are calling our friends, they are also spinning, the world is spinning, Earth is spinning, I am spinning. For me it’s a symbol, this is metal, machine, and I am human. For me it’s about this.”

Annie Hanauer doesn’t “speak directly to the audience, but I feel like I have a quite direct connection with the audience, I am sharing a lot with them with my focus and my movement. I feel like there are elements of my personality behind that, being a bit light and not serious, but actually behind that there is something deep and meaningful. Particularly for me the Nina Simone [bit] has a lot of emotional layers and amazing sound and her voice layers everything in there, it’s really nice to work with that. I felt a nice focus from the audience, they were really with us and it was a pleasure to be here, so it’s kicking of the tour in a nice way for us.”

“People say that [the arm does not look like a prosthesis] sometimes and I don’t know because I kind of don’t believe it, I can see what you mean, for me it’s really part of me, it’s not something I think about, really. My body has given me a particular perspective. Sometimes we just see a dancer.” That’s all there is to see.

* TORDRE by Rachid Ouramdane was the special guest show of the Contemporary dance season, on the occasion of FranceDanse Orient-Express Romania, on Thursday 2 November 2017.

**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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