DNA or the Matrix?
Even though I have a hard time finding a way into Tordre, the performance shows how the performing arts stages function as a perverted place for a claimed normative body.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about theatres as freak shows or horror parks. By theatre, I mean stages where the performing arts are shown – including dance – and the freaky or horror aspect of it is the reproduction of an indirectly claimed normative body. Both theatre and dance still tend to favor some specific body types. And the minute a different body enters the stage, this normative body either re-establishes itself through pointing at the different bodies as the other, the bad one, so to speak. Or, the perverseness becomes obvious. This is not a new discovery, but lately I have been thinking about it a lot. It’s a bit like getting a pair of newly washed glasses, and not understanding how you were able to put up with the dirty and slightly foggy version of them, for so long.
As the two dancers in Rachid Ouramdane’s Tordre enters the main stage at Dansens Hus in Oslo, I am reminded of this. One of the dancers (Annie Hanauer) has an arm prosthesis, which influences her movements and choreography. While the other dancer, Lora Juodkaite, is wearing full body tricot, Hanauer is wearing black trousers and a singlet – making the prosthesis very visible.
Apart from this, Hanauer has the costume and posture of the stereotypical contemporary dancer; slightly saggy trousers and tight singlet, whereas Juodkaite looks more like classical ballet with her tricot. The prothesis soon becomes an extended part of Hanauer’s body, refusing to be a symbol. I read in the festival program that the «choreography pushes the performers to find the gesture that makes them who they are». What does this mean, I wonder? What is it that makes us who we are? Is it the bodies we are born with and the manner in which we in different ways alter them? I’m not entirely sure these questions are answered through the performance, but Hanauer and Juodkaite do move differently.
Disney on Ice
The stage is covered with white dance matts, surrounded by white walls. From the roof, two giant black t-hooks are hanging, and between them we see a huge cluster of floodlights. The performance opens with a piece of music, a part of the ouverture from the movie Funny Girl (1968). The snippet is played in a rough loop, as a contrast to the smooth texture of the sound. I associate the music with Disney, and as the dancers move with big gestures, they somehow look like two tv-shop hostesses, located in a twisted Disney on Ice-universe.
Soon both music and choreography changes, and the real choreography, so to speak, is revealed. Juodkaite twirls and spins. She’s like an O, or a zero, twirling around her own axis, while Hanauer appears more like a stick, with her arms either hanging down, or floating to the sides, like an I or 1. The more I look at them, the more they seem to be part of some sort of pattern that I’m missing the code to unravel. Instead of looking at a movie, or a picture, I’m maybe seeing the back-end of the internet, of the matrix?
Matrix or dna?
I’m having a hard time finding a passage into Tordre. The performance has a very strict and formal set-up, with a range of solos that at times overlap and becomes duets, or, at least moments of togetherness.
Since the movement is supposed to show us who they are, this patterned choreography that they are performing could also be read as strips of DNA. As if the two of them, twirling and spinning, falling and embracing, are DNA molecules? Somehow, I’m rather leaning towards it being a code. But to me, it becomes a code that I unfortunately find impossible to penetrate. I find no way in, no feelings or affects, no angle for the patterns to unfold or linger in me.
As I think back to the performance, it’s as if the main part of the performance erases itself in my memory, leaving me with the opening scene. This Disney on Ice meets TV-shop hostesses, on the other hand, gets my imagination going. In my mind, they will be staying in the building, in this wildly annoying music loop, as a reminder of how perverted the performing arts usually are.