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Posts from the ‘Dean Damjanovski’ Category

Professor

 Dean Damjanovski
(* with a little delay)

“Do I see what I hear? Do I hear what I see?” Those are the questions that provoke young and promising French choreographer Maud Le Pladec in her performance “Professor”. In this one-hour work, combining electronic music and sounds, movements, elements of theatre, live music performance and light, she investigates into the relationship between the music and the movement on stage. A large black curtain set parallel to the audience divides the stage in two parts – front and back – creating a situation of anxiety and expectation: what will come out from the other side? Extremely dimmed light brings the mood of “film-noir”. The presence of the three performers who are dressed in (almost) identical costumes, looking like one multiplied person, complete the picture, filling it with suspense and mystery. This visual ambient is dominated by the music structured as a collage of sounds and noises – a composition for electronic ensemble named “Professor Bad Trip” by Fausto Romitelli, which is the original inspiration for this performance. The movements and actions of the performers on stage are in direct relationship to the music. They are the embodiment of what the audience hears. The movements vary from hand gestures, through choreography of the whole body to facial expressions and “narrative” movements. Le Pladec very clearly and categorically announces her intention to “dance the music” from the first solo in the performance and remains consistent until the end. It is a pleasure (for a change) to watch dancers dance to music at least till the end of the third solo. From that moment on the music/movement module just repeats itself with variations. That is the moment when you start to ask youself – what is this performance really about?

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Bread and Games

Dean Damjanovski

Violence and demonstration of masculine strength are inseparable part of entertainment. Since the time of the Roman gladiators and Japanese sumo-wrestlers till the American WWF the pleasure that the spectator gets from the clash of raw force on stage is a sensation that can not be compared to anything else. The protagonists Pieter Ampe and Guillherme Garrido in their “physical drama” titled Still Standing You offer themselves and their bodies for audience’s entertainment. Since the very beginning we see them on the full lit stage in a strange position – one of them lying on the floor with his feet straight up and the other sits on his soles. After establishing contact with the audience they say “Now we will perform our contemporary dance” as if they are saying “let the games begin”.

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A Mary Wigman Dance Evening by Dean

Dean Damjanovski

The performance “A Mary Wigman Dance Evening” of the young choreographer and dancer Fabian Barba was performed last night on the scene of MSUFA in the frames of the “iDANS” festival. It should also be mentioned that the performance is competing for the award Prix Jardin d’ Europe awarded for emerging choreographers.

What the small audience attending the performance had the opportunity to see were nine solos, which, according to the quite lengthy text that the author gave us prior to the performance, represent a reconstruction of the original solos by Mary Wigman (1886 – 1973), German dancer and choreographer, forerunner of the expressionist dance in Europe. It was obvious that the author has done his “homework” very thoroughly and that he has put much effort to get to the shown result. The reconstructed solos performed by Barba were very clean and precise and one could tell that the other elements of the performance – music, lighting and especially costumes, which were made with taste and sense of authenticity – were paid a lot of attention.

But, this is where the description ends and the problem begins for the performance remained on the level of a demonstration. The performer, quite selfishly, kept us away from the experience of what he was doing on stage by repetitively using the same sequence of “solo – pause with music – solo (with a different costume)”. That is why the first six pieces went without any reaction from the audience even though he bowed after each of them in the manner of Wigman. Maybe that was the response he wanted? Anyway, at the end, when we knew from the program that it was the end, we applauded and called the performer back on stage where he repeated two of the pieces (again, as it was said in the program). Maybe this contract that was made before the performance represented an additional barrier to the communication between the piece and us? Sorry, I almost forgot – there was a tiny and shy applause at the end of the seventh solo, but I’m not sure whether it was because of the effective costume or because of the fact that the dancer finally decided to “put himself” into the performance?

This performance raised a lot of questions for me. For example, whether we as audience should be satisfied with a mere “reconstruction”? And whether the reconstruction itself, understood in this sense, is sufficient or it takes something more to “jump over the edge” and become a performance? For me, personally, last night’s performance remained on the level of a well done homework, but it didn’t manage to transform into a performance…. I wonder how would the “ordinary” audience react without any previous knowledge of Mary Wigman or reconstruction as a method in contemporary performing arts? Perhaps then a real communication would be established? Maybe there is nothing wrong with the performance, maybe we were the problem?

Will you ever be happy again

Dean Damjanovski

While the audience enters the hall it listens to audio recording in Serbian of the legendary football match on the Belgrade stadium “Marakana” between home team Red Star and Bayern from Munich in the semi-finals of the Championship League in 1991 when the “red-whites” (Red Star), in the 90th minute evened the score to 2:2 and reserved their place in the finale. After the audience is seated the young performer and author explains in Serbian language (with subtitles) about the game she used to play when she was a little girl. The game is called “partisans and Germans” (a Balkan variant of “cowboys and Indians”) in which the Germans were always represented as negatives. She then invites her playmate – German performer Jochen Stechmann – to come to the stage.

This is the introduction to the theatre performance “Will you ever be happy again” by the Serbian theatre author, director and performer Sanja Mitrovic who lives and works in the Netherlands. This powerful “tale for one Serbian and one German performer” is a documentary and personal piece performed in Serbian and German language of two young people, members of different nations, which in different historical periods take on the same path – that of nationalism, violence and war. Intertwining details from personal documents and national iconography the author creates a complex structure of signs, which in some moments are complementary and in others oppose each other, in order to present us the process of transformation of personal identities. The scene at the end where both of the performers simultaneously sing nationalistic songs, each of them in his/hers own language, rhythm, melody and energy is a very precisely found opposition to the beginning of the performance pointing that every evil starts as innocent as a game. The performance is filled with local and national references, which, when it comes to Serbian (that are dominant) are not always readable for wider audience. That’s why there are moments where one gets the impression that the author is using nationalistic German iconography to “universalize” elements of her local context. Accusing the whole world for their faith and pointing out the irony of it has been the trade-mark of the Balkan post-war theatre and this performance is no exception of that model (like the scene where she asks the German soldier to bomb the bridge while she is standing on it and in the other second the situation turns into a typical Balkan “bacchanalia” under the sounds of Serbian pop-folk music). But the author makes a very wise use of those clichés and stereotypes and goes beyond them. For she doesn’t stop at the questions like who is right or wrong or who fired the first bullet because it is no longer relevant. The question that she emphasizes so strongly and not without a sense of doubt is the question whether we can be happy again – the villains, the victims, the bystanders… ?

By Dean Damjanovski

When I was a very rich man (on “Life and Strive”)

Dean Damjanovski

The artistic project “Life and Strive” by the two young Berlin-based artists Anat Eisenberg and Mirko Winkel takes us on a journey into the world of the richest representatives of the global society. Our group consisting of 8 people (max allowed is15) was taken on an arranged meeting for buying apartments in the tallest building in Istanbul located in one of the most luxurious and fast growing parts of the city. Each member of the audience was advised to take on an identity of a potential buyer with an imagined, but still close to reality, biography. After the arrival we’ve been welcomed by a well-dressed salesman who didn’t spare time and energy to explain us in details all the specific characteristics of the building. And there was much to tell – from the state of the art eco-system that preserves 20 per cent of the energy to a golf course on the 38th floor and garden in the apartment. The price was such that probably none of us could ever be able to afford – from 1.7 to 7.8 million US dollars depending on the size, east-west exposure or which floor the apartment is on. This whole almost surreal experience lasted a little over an hour until one of the authors, still in the role of a “freelance agent”, called us to leave because our bus was waiting. Of course, no one made any deal about buying an apartment.

This work raises so many questions on the line of what is “performative”, where is the performance and who is it aimed at that one may think that we are dealing with an ingenious work here. Unfortunately, that is not the case. It is only one of many attempts to transfer performance from specialized places into the public sphere and into everyday life. Nevertheless, the future participants of the “Life and Strive” project will have a memorable experience that will last for a long time.

 

 

By Dean Damjanovski

“A Mary Wigman Dance Evening”

Dean Damjanovski

The performance “A Mary Wigman Dance Evening” of the young choreographer and dancer Fabio Barba was performed last night on the scene of MSUFA in the frames of the “iDANS” festival. It should also be mentioned that the performance is competing for the award Prix Jardin d’ Europe awarded for emerging choreographers.

What the small audience attending the performance had the opportunity to see were nine solos, which, according to the quite lengthy text that the author gave us prior to the performance, represent a reconstruction of the original solos by Mary Wigman (1886 – 1973), German dancer and choreographer, forerunner of the expressionist dance in Europe. It was obvious that the author has done his “homework” very thoroughly and that he has put much effort to get to the shown result. The reconstructed solos performed by Barba were very clean and precise and one could tell that the other elements of the performance – music, lighting and especially costumes, which were made with taste and sense of authenticity – were paid a lot of attention.

But, this is where the description ends and the problem begins for the performance remained on the level of a demonstration. The performer, quite selfishly, kept us away from the experience of what he was doing on stage by repetitively using the same sequence of “solo – pause with music – solo (with a different costume)”. That is why the first six pieces went without any reaction from the audience even though he bowed after each of them in the manner of Wigman. Maybe that was the response he wanted? Anyway, at the end, when we knew from the program that it was the end, we applauded and called the performer back on stage where he repeated two of the pieces (again, as it was said in the program). Maybe this contract that was made before the performance represented an additional barrier to the communication between the piece and us? Sorry, I almost forgot – there was a tiny and shy applause at the end of the seventh solo, but I’m not sure whether it was because of the effective costume or because of the fact that the dancer finally decided to “put himself” into the performance?

This performance raised a lot of questions for me. For example, whether we as audience should be satisfied with a mere “reconstruction”? And whether the reconstruction itself, understood in this sense, is sufficient or it takes something more to “jump over the edge” and become a performance? For me, personally, last night’s performance remained on the level of a well done homework, but it didn’t manage to transform into a performance…. I wonder how would the “ordinary” audience react without any previous knowledge of Mary Wigman or reconstruction as a method in contemporary performing arts? Perhaps then a real communication would be established? Maybe there is nothing wrong with the performance, maybe we were the problem?