The title of your performance, CASCADE, refers to a chain reaction, something like a domino effect. Did you use this concept to structure the movements?
CASCADE deals with entropy, things that fall, bodies that fall down, get up again and start over. We have worked with a number of concepts related to falling and recovery: falling down, standing up, experiencing gravity, experimenting with sensing the opposite of gravity. Another principle we used to bend or interrupt the mechanism of the domino effect is the reset: how can we make the machine stop and restart it?
The group is very diverse, with people from dance and theater, with very different bodies of different ages, with all kinds of energy. There are seven dancers and two drummers, united in a strange community which takes shape via the movement. That is why part of the work consisted of finding ways both to tune in to each other and to disrupt synchronization. Working on the rhythm in this way demands an enormous intensity, in which the bodies have to follow a very fast pace. Among other things we worked with games without fixed rules. We wanted to create a dynamic with which we could bring about a new type of interaction in real time, break the system in order to set up a new one. There too it is about the way in which bodies behave in a group and learn to move in a space with rules that are never fixed. The ultimate goal is to arrive at an ecosystem, at a group that tries to set up new structures for coexistence. What would that mean, recreating the world? What do we do when there is nothing left, how do we move, how do we behave in the void?
At a certain moment in the performance a kind of revelation happens, a revelation which brings the dancers into a different state, which transforms this intensity and makes it something other than a purely mechanical fact. I could call it a new paradigm, an inflation of rational beacons. I would like the spectators to notice this reversal, to start questioning the scale of everything – above and below, big and small, slow and fast...
For your previous performance, Celestial Sorrow, you collaborated with the Indonesian artist Jompet Kuswidananto. CASCADE is made in collaboration with scenographer and director Philippe Quesne. How has space influenced the dynamics of the bodies?
Philippe Quesne has devised a space that offers a rather strong framework – a space that is independent of time, that knows no boundaries. The space contains the bodies, it functions at the same time as an illusion and as a boundless horizon, it possesses a kind of consciousness, a soul that influences the bodies that move within it. The whole piece is an effort to find a balance between an impulse, a desire to cross borders, and an attempt to let go. The group tries to perform an action which is meaningful and at the same time the entropy, an inner collapse, creeps into the movements. That collision between two dynamics interests me. Thanks to the set we can revise and transcend our prejudices about inner and outer space, entropy and letting go, immobility and infinite movement.
Philippe has given the performance a form of humor, a subtle irony. The environment inhibits the mobility of the bodies, absorbs part of their energy. This raises the question of boundaries: where are the physical and energetic boundaries, how are these rules determined, how do we find a certain autonomy and freedom? This freedom cannot come from a single body, it is related to the group, to the connection between the members, to their ability to evolve together. The evolution of this group is based on the balance between a form of competition and the need to work together.
Your dance takes a radical approach to time, whether it concerns acceleration, interruption or the duration of the pieces. How does time work in CASCADE?
In the games that served as the basis of the rehearsals, time played an important role: can we imagine a boundless time? What do you do with your time? That all comes to the surface in the performance via a very direct form of tension, oscillating between rapture and horror, letting go and controlling. We have worked with extreme aspects of time such as delaying, spreading out, slowing down, repeating, synchronizing divergent speeds. I would like for what happens on stage to make you see time as an elusive matter, a tissue inside of which the dancers make quantum leaps. There is a strong focus on the present, as ›we are here, now‹. But through all that, the physical dynamics want to open the gaze on what lies beyond the present, something like an old future...
We live in a period of uncertainty that primarily affects the body. Isn't dance exactly an art form that can show the uncertainty that touches the body?
Even in uncertainty there is movement – things, principles, objects, spaces that move us. You just have to be aware of it. In general, I try to follow what the bodies offer me. A bit like when you have to respect the tempo or deviate from the rhythm. In order to deal with those deviations and that synchronization you have to feel them, try them, start again. I ask the question about the value of that common experience – what the dancers experience and what the spectators will feel when they come to the theater. What does that help us understand – and what can be the meaning of this common experience right now? Dance is an art of closeness, of contact between bodies. Faced with the virus that touches our way of moving, of moving from place to place, of meeting others, we have to reinvent our – individual and social – choreography.