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But then again…idealism

Nóra Bükki Gálla

Five dancers, three nations, one artistic principle: diversity. The Spanish-Italian-Hungarian group won a 2 week residency with the 2010 Prix Jardin d’Europe in Istanbul; this January City is part of the DunaPart festival program in Budapest, Hungary.

One has to be bold enough to tackle the issues of social conflicts and interpersonal problems–small and large scale–on a dance stage. It’s a road that may lead nowhere in particular, especially if the artists are hard core romantics; one hardly dares to look for fear of seeing a complete disaster. So we hold our breath and after 50 minutes, relax. Idealism is not dead yet.

We tend to neglect clichés, and discard them as not worth to be staged. Aren’t they truths after all–beyond the dusty layers of common denial? Things like: “dance makes you free” and “democracy works” come to mind. Of course, a healthy sense of humour is needed, and self irony is a must.­ A voice is telling us that we’re about to see a dance on famine and global warming. Big things is life are ungraspable, so why not laugh? After all, laughing is one way of taking things seriously.

The same voice ushers us to the simple but emotionally charged depths of City, the black and white realm of worn out truths revived; the five dancers throw off their clothes, their artificially beaming smiles reflecting our own naked ridiculousness–that’s what a good clown does, isn’t it? Following a circus-style entrée, we get a live demonstration (a bit lame and overdone, come to think of it) on how stage dance is born from everyday gestures, combined with dynamic and dramaturgic shifts. Big Brother keeps ordering the figures about; the dancers introduce themselves by raising their hands; we get to know their sexual preferences and inner qualities. (Or do we? The stage is a trick of illusion of its own.) When mere words are not enough, the voice gets the others to stop two people who won’t stop the kissing he ordered them to start in the first place… The power of verbality and actions merge as the bodiless voice picks a leader and then hammers his opponent into the ground with mere words. In the end we get back to the opening scene, but the circus music won’t come. The dancers one by one take their clothes and flee. The show is over; at least for today.

The main focus is the emotional impact of manipulation, whether it’s mental or physical; the figure running in slow motion is tossed and poked by two others with long sticks in their hands. Verbal terror is equally destructive: the solitary naked figure of a woman is flooded with an endless stream of spoken abuse. The lines about her being strange, foreign and unwanted in another country might be too explicit though, not leaving enough space for reflection.

The strength and weakness of the piece is the idealistic way of creation, the forced balance of differences which is in perfect unison with the message; our fragmented, schizoid idea of democracy. The duality of motion and words renders this message understandable, as if the piece was kind of an initiation that aims to make people understand the healing quality of art, the salvation that the artists feel lies within dance itself–it’s hard not to be didactic, and they often fall into the trap–and deep too. But one thing we cannot find fault with in the BLOOM! opus, is the devotion and openheartedness with which they convey this naïve, raw and unfinished, but definitely catching confession. And this is a fairly good start.

Nóra Bükki Gálla

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