As the year draws to a close, I have decided to join the throngs of writers, bloggers, journalists and social media types in the inevitable look back at the past year. (A case of if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?) So, I’ve reviewed in my mind the events and shows I have had the opportunity to enjoy in the past year to find my personal favorite of 2012.
According to the attractively presented WordPress annual report (!) delivered to my inbox this morning, I wrote 22 posts in 2012, but not everything I have experienced, done and seen makes a blog entry. Not only do I write slowly, but the mental space for writing is often crowded out by the near-daily task of translating corporatespeak. So, at the end of the year my personal favorite in 2012 lacks an entry! I have a few hours to remedy the situation before the midnight hour hits Rotterdam.
In November, Conny Janssen Danst performed How Long Is Now at a tram depot in north Rotterdam. It was the second time I’ve seen the troupe taking dance out of indoor performance spaces to explore locations not usually associated with dance. In the summer of 2010, it was a disused railway station, this time it was a huge and unheated tram shed. Entering the space, we were astonished by rows of antique trams. It turned out we were in the Rotterdam Tram Museum. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to slip the camera into my bag, so I can only ask you to imagine the scene (or to do a flicker search with the keywords tram remise hillegersberg). If your heart really goes out to trams and you can read Dutch, have a look at Stichting RoMeO.
In a Backstage Report posted on the Conny Janssen Danst YouTube channel, the lead dancer for How Long Is Now, Francesco Curci, talks about the inspiration for the performance and his own role.
Francesco Curci seems modest and a little shy in this video, but performing alone in front of a few hundred people, he was explosive. Conny Janssen wanted to create a surrealistic world with poetry, beautiful dance and costumes, and How Long Is Now succeeds on all points. I sat there wishing I had recording equipment in my eyes so I could play it back at will after dark with my eyes closed.
The dancers were accompanied live by Alamo Race Track, new to me and another pleasing discovery of Dutch musicians. Go to their website to listen to tracks from Birds At Home from 2003, Black Cat John Brown from 2006, or the latest recordings on Unicorn Loves Deer issued in 2011. (The tracks are streamed under the Records heading.)
A reworked version of How Long Is Now will be performed at Koninklijk Theater Carré in Amsterdam on January 18, 19 and 20. A Royal Theatre is not quite a tram shed, but I guess it will have to do. If you have a chance to go, do!