Here is one text about the two performances I was able to view during the project “New Dance in the New Venue” (August 15-19, 2015) in Saldus, Latvia. Since this was an initiative, born from The Writing Movement Network, it feels kind of natural for me to write and move. Firstly, I moved from Bulgaria to Latvia, then I also moved in the choreographic project of Latvian choreographer Elena Jacinta “Tongue: Translations“. Later on I moved again from Latvia back to Bulgaria, and here I am, writing about movements from two performances, that I saw during my stay in Saldus. A real process of writing and moving!
The author of the text Elena Angelova (in the middle) performing in Saldus Arts School, photo: Inta Balode
I hope that you enjoy the text where I describe my reflection from the two very different both in context and esthetics dance pieces, “Corpuss” and “Summer feet in Saldus”.
PERFORMANCE AS A GENDER STUDY
I saw “Corpuss” as one story about femininity – the young woman body of Elina Lutce partnered in an intense relationship with the old-fashioned feminine dress, the emblem of womanhood. In her way of movement and presence on stage there was a clear tendency of self analysis. Her concentration was strongly pointed in her own body process as if she was doing a research. The eyes were turned very much inside, looking, seeking for the source of discomfort (because the body displayed constantly the state of inconvenience). Throughout the whole performance there was this really visible layer of sinking into the self, into the cause, into the origin of a trouble, forsaken somewhere in the performer’s body. From the beginning in “Corpuss” there was a strong decision for displaying indecisiveness. One dance, based on manners and attitude when a woman is at the state of discomfort, probably born from the reason that she doesn’t know how to exist in the circumstances of the dress, of the body.
As if the reason for her abstract pain appears both in the inside world and in the outside circumstances: the body and the dress are a problem, a conflict, an issue. On this base the dancer strived with lot or less energy to trace this process through movement. It appeared as if her goal is to go beyond the skin and the dress in order to find the inner conflict.
In the quality of this decision I find a little source of a introvert behaviour, combined with endless contemplation of the self. Probably it is strange, but this resembles an aspect of the feminine essence for me. Exposed by the dancer in a physical way, this is probably food of one unconscious gender study.
Elina Lutce’s performance leaves an open space for interpretations: the dramaturgy in it has a certain fragility. Exactly like the quality of her movement.
“Corpuss” by Elina Lutce and Krista Dzudzilo in Saldus Arts School, photo: Inta Balode
STRUCTURE AND DESTRUCTION IN “CORPUSS”
Thinking about structure can provide food for thought in several different aspects. The first one is about the most visible layer of structure: the very complicated structure of the dress contrasted with the plain body, I would even suggest that the body was wrapped with artificial structure, which played with what was shown and what was hidden from the viewer. Although this game was more or less predictable, I think that one can find a touch of fascination from the almost meditative act of revealing the layers.
While I was watching this process a question occurred to my mind – Does the dress structures the movement of the body or it is the other way around – the body models the dress? I quite liked the fact that the answer actually never came. The artist remained always on a border of not giving exact illustration of her state. Her position towards the dress and what was happening with this interaction remained quite abstract and uncertain. It remained unstructured. Maybe it would be more adequate to speak more about destruction in “Corpuss”, instead of making attempts to find structure. and balanced expositions.
There is the complete, concrete, complex and structured dress. Maybe here is the right moment to go back in the beginning of the piece where everything is still hidden, unrevealed, the performance remains as a secret to the viewer. There is the very curious presence of a hyperstructured retrograde womanhood with the slight anachronism from the microphone. The moment when Elina fronts the audience there is the complete dragging of the attention onto her appearance. It is possible that she won’t move, it is possible that she would start to talk or sing an aria. (When the piece ended with the aria “Remember me” what I tried to remember was actually the beginning).
The beginning of “Corpuss” was an undeniable strong act of being in presence. The few minutes of stillness, the minimalistic gestures until the falling of the wig were a precious time for me to react on the conservative approach towards the body.
Later on that impression started to fade and it was substituted by different by form, but same by nature acts of predictable decomposition. Here I would rather say that the beginning had a much more stronger effect that was not sustained by the end. This made me not quite ready to appreciate the dramatic effect of the final gesture with the static bared body and Dido’s lament from Henry Purcell’s opera “Dido and Aeneas”.
PROVOCATION THROUGH SMILE IN “SUMMER FEET IN SALDUS”
I don’t quite often see performances like “Summer feet in Saldus” and the reason is simple: very rarely contemporary dance aims at achieving a comedy effect. And the comedy, created by
was in one of my favourite genres – ironic, but kind-hearted critique about the Mtimes that we all, contemporary humans, live in.
The performance started its communication in a minimalistic metaphorical language. Using simple objects like a hand-made cloud, little lamp and a projector Moa Sahlin created a physical dimension of a virtual space. This was a humoristic, original and unexpected visualization of the iCloud service (the thing, that keeps all our devices in sync and allows us to share information like music, photos, etc.) She was illustrating this with a little effect of alienation. The process resembled an improvisation game that children unconsciously do, however there were some signs which alerted the viewer’s attention that it isn’t as easy as that. (Like the moment when the performer put the lamp at the place of her intimate parts and stayed like that for a while: for me this produced an effect of surprise and strange process of putting together the puzzle of woman as a biological truth in the context of virtual existence).
If we go back for the terms that we were thinking “Corpuss” through, we can also reason the presence of a female white body on stage. However, here I sensed not that much the sense of femininity, than some kind of childish playfulness. A very wide ability of the performer to adapt was spread among the viewers. In her behaviour there was the potential to connect with everybody, exposing that very rare humoristic presence that a dancer can have.
When the second part (the loud hiphop music) began, I was shocked by the precision of the movement, which actually brought the attitude, that we are all used to see on the many hiphop style “gangsta” videos. It was obvious that she was making a grotesque, a physical game of symbolic gestures, that illustrate that style and appearance. Nevertheless, the activity and the engagement she put into it made it look like she is doing it for real. The movements looked fluently, they looked effortless. And very soon I think everybody in the space started to have fun.
“Summer feet in Saldus” nailed my attention with two things – the very natural comedy talent of the performer Moa M. Sahlin and the honest message that it send – nothing will change, whatever attitudes and styles we “download”.
Moa M. Sahlin in her solo “Summer feet in Saldus” in Saldus Arts School, photo: Inta Balode
 A short presentation based on Elena Jacinta’s choreographic project “Tongue”, presented in Sofia, Bulgaria in October, 2014 as result of her residency where I took part as a dancer.
*Elena Angelova (Bulgaria) has been into classical ballet training and contemporary dance practice for many years. In 2011/2012 she began her professional education in the faculty “Dance Theatre” in the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts. However, one year later she transferred to another faculty “Theatre studies and Theatre management” and in 2015 she acquired BA degree. Elena’s articles, reviews and interviews have been published in most of Bulgaria’s culture magazines and medias, such as “Homo Ludens”, web portals “Culture” and “New Dramaturgies”, etc. As a theatre specialist she has gained experience in Bulgaria’s largest international theatre festival “Varna summer”, where her duties included working as editor, marketing assistant and author. Elena has interest in contemporary performing arts both in theory and practice. She has been dancing in two professional dance projects, developed as Derida Dance Center’s residencies, “Tongue” (choreography Elena Jacinta, Latvia) and “Slipstream” (choreography Mihaela Griveva, Irland/Bulgaria).