impressions by Claudia Galhós

The Portuguese journalist and author Claudia Galhós followed the Dansefestival Barents in Hammerfest (NO) and reflected daily on the performances she saw. Below are her impressions about a.o. 'The seventh floor of the world'. The online link can be found here.

About shadows, dreams and reality
by Claudia Galhós - November 9 2013 -

What if you could go back and find a dream you dreamt years ago? Hunter Lee Soik asks this question. And he built what it is considered the answer to this. But before telling who Hunter is, lets say he is part of a world that goes faster than our imagination. The body keeps researching and telling the stories lived in the frontier between reality and fiction, or reality and dreaming, being hurt and feeling on the flesh the moment they are crossed by an ambiguous experience of an unknown state between the two, always very connected to the stimulating of all senses. While this happens in dance today, in the world of Internet, Hunter Lee Soik, born in Korea and raised within a foster family in California, created a program he called "Shadow", which proposes to archive the dreams of people from all around the world. This is reality, but doesn't it implies a risk of ending the eternal mystery of dreams, that are always escaping from our control and our enigmatic blurred memory?

This was a question very much present in the combination of the three shows that were presented on the third day of DanseFestival Barents (on the 7th November 2013) in Hammersfest: "The seventh floor of the world", a collaborative mixmedia work by Heine Avdal, Yukiko Shinozaki and Sachiyo Takahash; "And then they were" by the duo of young choreographers Tony Tran and Hedda Rivrud, related to the city company, Stellaris DansTeater [note: originally the founder and programmer of DanseFestival Barents was Solveig Leinan-Hermo, the choreographer, also founder of Stellaris DansTeater, based in Hammersfest, the second independent dance company founded in Norway]; and finally "On the desperate edge of now", a choreography for five male dancers by Kari Hoaas.

This non-clearly identified zone between real and unreal is as important as poetry. And as living. And is something to be protected and cherished. And it's of the poetics of a thinking body, a body that possesses knowledge and that is in contact with its interior. It is a particular quality of a body that is defended here, in the dance they do. This refers to a body that is "a subject that produces knowledge and that - because it produces art - show us the paradigm of the production in general, the power of life: the body is consequently a machine inside which the production of art is inscribed" (in "Letter to Raul about the Body", by Toni Negri).

All this production and the interior inscription of the knowledge produced was happening since the day before in the foyer of the House of Culture, where the festival is mainly happening. It was there that, the days before, the teams from the two first shows were rehearsing and experimenting amongst the audience that arrived and left to see the shows. So, two days in advance, there were the troupe of Avdal, Shinozaki and Takahash dressed in overalls of red, yellow and blue going around the passers by with white balloons (like the ones used in comic books where what the characters say is written) with something written on them, as if it was a thought or something they were saying to whomever was there. And also the day before, Tony Tran and Hedda Rivrud were experimenting their choreography in the lobby, right next to the tables where people sat to wait for the shows to start. In fact, that was the place where they finally shared what they had been working on.

It was in this space between reality and the construction, or imagination, or even dreaming of reality, that was activated something that belongs simultaneously to the subject of the shows presented and to a natural existence of the flow of movement, connections, interrelations... Is was something happening all the time, even in the intervals of the festival. This something is that 'in between', not exactly defined, somewhere between states of mind and between reality and fiction...

Each piece had its poetic, more abstract, dimension, in its own very particular way. And in this sense through the body they invoked a relation with an inner existence. In "The seventh floor of the world" the travel through the world of sensations and imagination, very intimate of a state of dreaming, is a clear reference. It presented itself in a very colourful way almost as if it was a kids show created for adults. They used simple stage strategies, like the real time, and visible to the audience, manipulation of objects amplified into a big screen, that created an illusion of a metamorphosis of the nature of the objects and materials being used and of what they were... After, "And then they were". A danced conflict with humour on the use of movement clichés from contemporary dance, but in a way as if questioning its relevance, and distorting them enough to twist their meaning into a more personal expression. They shared a story of conflict, of paradoxical forces fighting, of disenchantment... An experience of a shared space, where the shape of the feeling was drawn in fragments of tremors, confidentiality, eloquent silences, rejection, anguish, despair. And death...

In "On the desperate edge of now" the five male characters, even if not defined with a clear identity and personality, flow between the all potentiality of contemporary dance where each person and the collective are prose and poetry, in a double exposure going from narrative (which is different from the notion of theatrical) to metaphor in a brief impacting action. In an acrobatic and imaginative composition of dance lexicon, Kari Hoaas reminds us of the male quotidian labour that uses (and abuses) the body as a tool and force - as the workers on constructions and on ships that exist in Hammersfest that inevitably comes to mind. She gives us the dimension of the technical dominium of the body. The density and melancholy and the hardness of such labour, but she also gives us humour and joyful and unexpected references to the History of dance, such as the dance of one strongly bodily built dancer in a duet with a dark used green, working outfit, an overall that brought to mind one of Pina Bausch's most kitsch scene with Dominique Mercy as a protagonist, in a tutu dress and high heels... The space between should be always a rebellious place. It doesn't matter if it is a world of metaphor, poetry, ambiguity, surreal suggestions or dreams, they should run freely and never be caught in any Internet shadow.