Pickable Limbs and Curly Pubic Hair
Two overgrown preteen boys hurling, stepping on, pulling around each other in a mock-fight; or two WWE members wrestling with exaggerated gestures and mimics of pain and victory… At first glance, Pieter Ampe and Guilherme Garrido’s Still Standing You reminds you of such scenes; at second you think that no surprises, you get used to this “chubbies’ violence show”. But instantly you begin to feel that the two dancers’ never ending effort to take each other down, ride on and drag around is totally unrelated to violence or games: it is a restless and compelling quest to find their place and position within/towards one another.
Ampe and Garrido are already on stage when you enter, Garrido sitting on Ampe’s lifted feet. He greets us “Merhaba”, then continues in English stating that they two want to present a contemporary show to us. He mounts on Ampe further in an acrobatic way, Ampe moans, they tremble and then collapse. From that moment on everything becomes more brutalized; glottal shouts and words follow each other, the movements are harder and performed faster, the weight of bodies and gravity are felt more. The sounds they make are farcical rather than appalling; all of these normally terrifying noises and strikes arouse laughter. For a while they even act out villains of underworld from computer games or fantasy literature. It indeed feels like we have entered into the smelly and loud world of two boys.
However, among the sweat, spit, mucus, sounds of breath, bones, skins, smacking belts and burns they make, groans, moans, hums and hisses we witness a deep sensibility and bond. They never cease hold; in a way one always carries and pursues the other. The casual clothes get torn, t-shirts and pants become helmets, but especially this supposedly-obscene nudity emphasizes their frankness and bravery. The marks, bodily fluids and sounds are even more visible, though not in-yer-face style. Coupled with the ever-present sense of restraint and weight inherent their moving quality, these naked bodies and the arches, bridges, quadruplets and statues they create show us the bareness of being human.
The bodily is never just bodily; classical Western dance have always tried to erase the slightest manifestation of physicality from stage, yet what might be an extreme opposite of it also does the same in a different way and with a different intention. The coarseness vanishes from our eyes after a while and we begin to think about the underlying motive or originary emotion that sets this painful struggle on, while at the same time the materiality in itself continues to affect us. The inexhaustible desire and distress to catch, manipulate and drive each other does not end in a climatic moment – such as returning to the first opening position- as the rolling cylinder of flesh suggests. In the end, just like the beginning, we do not see “dancers” on stage, but two worn men drying their bodies on white towels with languorous smile.