“Professor” as the Perfect Drug
Professor, based on the three-parts musical “Professor Bad Trip” composed by avant-garde electronic music composer Fausto Romitelli, offers a genuine synesthetic experience, one that brings together the spatial and visual with the aural in a very complex way. Once recorded by the Italian composer between the years 1998 and 2000, the musical gets conducted by Maud Le Pladec, embodied and instrumented by dancers Julien Gallée Ferré, Yoan Demichelis and Tom Pauwels on 25th of October in Istanbul, once again.
The hall is already dim while the audience enters, and gets even darker when the performance begins. Slowly a dancer becomes (hardly) visible, being even more unrecognizable thanks to his all-black suit. He gives the cue for music with the movement of his hands. Then Professor Bad Trip: Lesson 1 starts. The dance has a distinct moving quality focused more on hands and arms; the movement of the body somehow mimics the movement of music in an unconventional and dedicated way. It is not like going with the music but going towards it. After a while, we really begin to feel what has been promised in the flyer: watching the music in its intricacy and hearing the sound of this dynamic dance.
The first part ends with the dark stage and light coming behind the back curtain. The dancer is swallowed by it, and a second later we see him with an electro guitar, pedals, laptop and amplifiers, under single spotlight, contributing live to the record music. The second part starts with another dancer’s jump from the rear side; we see a chase-run, with dancers’ shadows echoing, in the back and front of the back curtain. This is followed by a solo of another dancer, again embodying the music. Then he is accompanied by the other two dancers and we now see their slow motion mimics and gestures, with changing emotions, as if performing a real “bad trip” as three alter egos of the same person. At this point, the performance gains an acting quality in parallelism with the music’s narrative suggestions; in a way, the movement fits itself into the emotional investment of the score. Furthermore, the second part functions as a comic relief for the otherwise quite dark and uncanny performance.
When the stage lights turn from blue to red, a jazzy music plays in between Romitelli’s composition. The three dancers emerge from behind. This is a trio dance, visualizing the music again in an abstract way. One dancer “creates” a sound (which is impossible to name as “note”) and sends it to another for its development and completion. Their dance evolves around this idea. The final part ends with the convergence of three dancers, looking to each other as if falling from the ecstatic experience. They stand still, music dies away and the synesthesia stops.
Romitelli’s score and instrumentalization is very impressive that the choreography might have vanished in it, become unnoticeable, or praised only for the sake of musicality. Yet Le Pladec’s work does more than feeding on the power of the music, it even more enhances it, translates it, fills every corner of its aural space. In turn, it takes the impetus from the score, the ground for this unique kind of movement, the sound system of its language. Thus Maud Le Pladec successfully challenges and matches the intense and sophisticated composition of Romitelli, taking us to a cogent bad trip and back.