On April 2, I found out where the young people go. Almost everywhere else we have been, the audience is largely middle-aged or much older, mostly white, but Dance Works Rotterdam attracted a varied and mostly young audience to Rotterdamse Schouwburg. It was a relief to finally find a venue with a youthful pulse.
The evening marked the world première of Anatomica #1 and got straight to the point with sexual competition, simulated masturbation, coupling suggestive of animal drives rather than romance, and loneliness. A rough translation of the programme sheet reads: Anatomica # 1 shows our behavior as we struggle with attractiveness, the physical extremes of sexual competition, romance and our most desperate, ridiculous behavior in order to please others. How far do we go in our efforts to deceive and who wins in the end? In a limited space on stage, the dancers compete with powerful duets, freerunning and acrobatics.
The second half of the programme, Anatomica#3 had its world première in Brighton in February 2007 with the Rambert Dance Company, but the choreographer, André Gingras (another Canadian!), has developed the piece since then. The tongue-in-cheek introduction featured 12 Andy Warhol “dolls” doing a piece reminiscent of those complicated European clockworks with figurines and music. The piece then went into a commentary on the portrayal of the body in mass media, perfection, fame and all that; followed by lots of athletic flying fun with a ramp and a mountain of mattresses.
After all this, I couldn’t help but wonder about the dancers themselves and how they cope with the psychological demands of doing a piece that revealed so much that is usually kept private, and encouraged competitive behaviour.
The Contemporary Performance website and blog features a recent article on Dance Works Rotterdam and André Gingras. The piece leads with a short video of Readymade Dance from the Watermill Center on Long Island, NY. It is a different view of boxing… although Mohammed Ali probably knows a thing or two about this.
In November this year, Dance Works Rotterdam will première The Sweet Art of Bruising, a performance for two dancers and audience. Since the publicity shot shows two boxers in close physical proximity, partly bound together with shrinkwrap, I’d venture to say, Readymade Dance is a taster.