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Reviews DanceReviews Published 6 May 2017

Review: material / rearranged / to / be at Dance International Glasgow

April 21 - April 30

So much room to breathe: Andrew Edwards spends hours at Siobhan Davies Dance’s multi-faceted installation at Tramway.

Andrew Edwards
material / rearranged / to / be, Dance International Glasgow. Photo: Pari Naderi.

material / rearranged / to / be, Dance International Glasgow. Photo: Pari Naderi.

It is a choreographic task he calls “looping”. It’s a steady re-shaping, a movement that seems to originate in the feet and ends in the fingers. It is a choreographic task he calls “looping”. It’s a burrowing, it reminds me of those machines they used to dig the channel tunnel, it oscillates like water down a plug hole. It is a choreographic task he calls “looping”. It’s Matthais Sperling, white cotton top, black trousers and black sunglasses, working his way across the room. It’s a choreographic task he calls “looping”. It is looping into the space and back, a negotiation between these looping body and these looping chairs, barriers and audience members. It is a choreographic task he calls “looping” and I walk in an anti-clockwise position before settling against the wall adjacent to where he started. It is a choreographic task he calls “looping” that finishes in two outstretched thumbs and two little fingers and him standing where I stood when it started.

One of the most striking things about the work is the evident commitment to exploring choreography as a practice of research. Emma Smith’s live experiments within the space, developed in collaboration with neuroscientist Manos Taskiris, are the most obvious example yet there’s an intentionality to the work that is deeply affective. Entering into the space feels a bit like getting off a plane in somewhere radically unfamiliar, or perhaps more accurately is like stumbling off a busy street into a library. It isn’t the change in noise that’s noticeable but the change in rhythm, in the undercurrent. This undercurrent, an agreed commitment to an act of enquiry, supports the performers through the moments where they have to dance not as if no one else is watching but instead in the full knowledge that no one is watching. In a space where it is difficult to focus on anything, where everything sits in relation to everything else in the room, these performers commitment to their particular works is remarkable.

material / rearranged / to / be is a performance installation from Siobhan Davies Dance that included work by choreographers Andrea Buckley, Siobhan Davies, Helka Kaski, Charlie Morrissey, Efrosini Protopapa and Matthais Sperling; visual artists Jeremy Millar and Emma Smith, and design duo Glithero (Tim Simpson and Sarah van Gameren). The installation was installed in the main exhibition space at Tramway, Glasgow, as part of Dance International Glasgow 2017. The exhibition was on from the 21st of April to the 30th of April 2017, running from 12-6pm each day, aside from Monday the 24th of April, when it was closed. Within this space were live performances, film projections and sculptural objects, all of which were intended to invite the audience to consider how the body and mind work to communicate through action and gesture. I visited the installation for three hours on Friday the 21st with a friend and for two hours on Friday the 28th unaccompanied. I live around the corner, and so travelled there on foot.

The result of this remarkable commitment to performance as research is that the spectator watching on, is afforded a vast space in which to take on the position of editor, composer or artist. No performance, sculpture of film projection refers directly to another artist’s work, each is entirely oblique and by turn the whole installation becomes extraordinarily readable, malleable to the eyes and minds of its audience. It is precisely because there are no definitive relations within the space that I delight in creating my own, feeling incredibly encouraged to assemble and reassemble different structures of meaning through tilting my head, turning my back or simply waiting for time to pass.

Emma connects a heart monitor to my finger and offers me a set of headphones. Wearing the headphones I can his heartbeat as he dances. This is one minute of him dancing:

beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat

Emma takes the heart monitor off and reveals my (abnormally) slow heartbeat has risen considerably. So far she has typically found that audience members who watch him dance gradually acquiesce to his heartbeat. To simply something that is enormously complicated – and which Emma explains to me in a way that is delightfully light and accessible – this dance arouses a physical empathy in me, a quality I attune – am attuned – to. This moment leaves my jaw somewhere in a tram line, offering out a small glimpse into how neuroscience might radically alter my own understanding of dramaturgy. So often I find myself looking for the “it-ness” of a work (a tendency I owe to the dramaturg Luke Pell), a quality sought after through intuition. What if that “it-ness” is heartbeats?

And I’m staring through these thin hand-painted pieces of paper, part of an architectural structure that hangs in the centre of the space and I’m watching a live capture of Andrea Buckley’s feet, up close, toes into what looks like a carpet and I read the word BODY and I’m seeing Charlie Morrissey standing underneath a jet-black solid polyhedron whilst a hollowed out jet-black polyhedron hangs over another audience members and I hear the sounds of bells and Siobhan Davies and Helka Kaski are drawing chalk lines on the floor and there’s sun shining in through the rooftops of Tramway and my foot is resting on the edge of a tramline and Matthais is wearing these ridiculous sunglasses and I can read the word FOLD and there are two sets of headphones hanging from the roof and a mother and daughter are quietly smiling at each other and this space feels enormous and there’s so much room to breathe and I could just spend hours here watching things and joining together the dots.

I thought it was very, very good and it’s next at the Whitworth, Manchester.

materials / rearranged / to / be was at Dance International Glasgow until April 30th. For more details, click here.

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Andrew Edwards is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Review: material / rearranged / to / be at Dance International Glasgow Show Info


Cast includes Andrea Buckley, Charlie Morrissey, Siobhan Davies, Helka Kaski, Erfosini Protopapa, Matthais Sperling, Emma Smith, Jeremy Millar, Glithero (Tim Simpson and Sarah vann Gameren)

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