The Essence

The Essence - IN PROCESS residency at HAUT. Photo: Simone Ballan

Through different art forms four multidisciplinary artists have investigated where movement initially comes from during a one-week IN PROCESS residency at HAUT. Urban dance, music and video work create a patchwork of investigations through which ‘the essence’ of things are being put into a loop. The scenario is playful, multilayered and full of questions that keep puzzle the minds of the audience like a thorough research should do.

The set-up

Behind an upside-down cone of purple light at the center of the stage is a screen

“Spiritual agreement”

To the right of the screen two ladders are placed

A wire runs from underneath the ladders diagonally across the stage and ends somewhere unknown

Red cones of red light cross the stage right underneath the ceiling

“Entrance Dance Closing”

To the left of the screen several DJ-set-ups are placed

To the left of the screen several Drum Maschines, Vocal Loopstations, Samplers and MIDI-Keyboards are placed

The dance

That is the set up. It has been a working space for the group of ‘The Essence’ consisting of Jolie Gambula, Emina Musti, Charly Luccini and Raffael Bender for the past week. Now the set-up has turned into a black box scenario with an intimate group of audience.

“Your time off is our time on”, the screen writes as beats directly resonating with my body starts to fill the entire space. “Let´s talk” are the next words appearing on the screen as a dancer begins to circle around the purple cone of light.

Entering the purple cone of light, she begins to move. To the soundscape and beats. At first it seems like she is moving her limbs, grooving with her body in different angles, snaking her spine. But as time goes by, I am almost being dragged into her sphere, allowing myself to become part of the movements and then I am puzzled…

Who or what is moving her body? Is she moving her body herself or do the sounds move her body? Could the two have some kind of intertwined and silent communication? A spiritual agreement.

The Essence – IN PROCESS residency at HAUT. Photo: Simone Ballan

With a background in dance, I know from an embodied perspective that it can happen. The feeling of being a body through which the music can move and move you. Getting into a state where you are in doubt whether you move yourself or something else outside or inside yourself is moving you.

From a theoretical point of view someone would maybe call this state ‘flow’. The Hungarian psychologist Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi described flow as the state where we are so indulged in an activity that we lose sense of time and no other activity matters. While in this mental state of flow, self-consciousness can fade and the sense of time can become distorted.

I wonder whether this state could equally describe the place where body and movement melt together into some kind of spiritual agreement. Maybe this place could be the essence?

Enhancing the experience of spirituality dance only appears in the purple cone. Whether it is on purpose or by coincidence, I get the impression that another energy is present when the dancers throughout the work-sharing enter the cone. Some kind of anima is present.

Later the cone of light turns into red. A new and harder beat sounds from the speakers as two dancers circle around each other and the cone. They are creating a dialogue that sometimes seem to be a competition, at other times seem to be a conversation. Another dancer appears on stage and ‘fast feet’ are in focus. House steps melt together with improvisational moves, and everything seem to be circulating around the stage. Sliding and waving movement contrast the beat of the music and that particular moment almost seem to enact each element. The contrast makes the music and the movements stand out even stronger than before.

The Essence – IN PROCESS residency at HAUT. Photo: Simone Ballan

The fourth dancer appears on stage and the interaction between the dancers clearly becomes the essence of things at this point of the sharing. They know each other´s rhythm and it is clear that they have been working together for at least a work. Their bodies resonate and they find each other in a common phrase in the cone of the red light. Again, the anima feel arises.

The music

The group performs several elements. I have written about them as dancers but that really doesn’t do them justice. As mentioned in the beginning several music set ups are placed to the left of the screen and during some of the work-sharing two people at a time are creating music and singing. The live feel to the sharing makes it come alive and vibrant in another way than when music is pre-recorded. It is a like a party on stage and that party enters my body. I automatically feel like dancing along when the afro house beats continuously repeat themselves with small changes.

Adding to that the beautiful singing by one of the performers enters another part of my body. It is kind of like other cells resonate with the singing than with the beats. I wonder whether there is a memory card in our bodies remembering different experiences, setting the body ‘in motion’ when hearing something recognizable or whether it is already layered in our bodies when we are born. These beats make us want to move and beautiful singing touches us other places where we sometimes want to cry or are being touched.

The Essence – IN PROCESS residency at HAUT. Photo: Simone Ballan

The Screen

The screen is an element in itself. Throughout the work-sharing a video work is projected. In the beginning, I allow it to be a background of the performance. Small texts, people dancing, abstractions swirl around in a big moving painting. It could almost be experienced like an abstract tapestry, but looking closer certain and more clear elements stand out, and I begin to understand where the material for the video work comes from.

The people dancing are the dancers from the residency and their process during the week. Syncronized and choreographic material is shown as well as more explorative material combined with some abstract silver material floating around on the screen. Not until later I notice that the silver material is the ladders that are being bend and stretched into organic forms moving.

I return to the thought of the essence of things. Movement is everywhere. Even in static objects like ladders. By time (very long time though) they will dissolve into nothingness while the artistic group has experimented with the ladders dissolving into moving beings mirroring the movement of the world.

Texts keep being projected on the screen like small reminders or reflections that puzzle you and make you think.

“Time is of the essence”

“The revolution will be desensitized”

The microphone

At the end of the performance a microphone slides in on the wire underneath the ladders to the center of the stage. It ends in front of one of the dancers´ mouths in an unsteady way. It is a humoristic moment continuing into the talk now performed. The talk is kind of wrapping up some of the findings of the residency or the questions that has arisen. Two things stand out. One is that it’s clear, that more questions than answers have come up during the residency. One extremely important question is e.g., “Why the ladders?” This moment is subjectively extremely interesting to me. It turns one of my perspectives upside-down. During the work-sharing I have been thinking “Why the ladders?” Usually, scenography has a very clear intention and if they don’t, audience will definitely think about why the scenography is not being used. We automatically put our own ideas into everything on stage. When taking up that question themselves, on stage, it is kind of like they devalue my thoughts on it. Suddenly it is okay that the ladders are there without meaning. Suddenly the ladders are allowed to be just ladders. Which lead me to the second thing standing out during the talk. “Do we explain it for them or do they explain it themselves

The Essence – IN PROCESS residency at HAUT. Photo: Simone Ballan

The question has an existential angle to it. Can we allow things to just be? No analyzing, no explanation. Just allow things, sensations to just be. Maybe that is the essence of things? And maybe that is even where things just flow.

Artists: Jolie Gambula, Emina Musti, Charly Luccini and Raffael Bender

Worksharing: 5th of May 2024

Place: Teater Zeppelin

Residency host: HAUT

Co-curator: Marie Kaae

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