The 3rd Forest Festival of the National Theatre of Northern Greece hosts for two days only a dance performance focused on existence and its ghastly enemy: us. With strength and determination, the fourteen dancers led by Katerina Antoniadou lead the audience through several earthly circle trying to describe an ideal, utopian, final Grace Zone.
Ospitata nel contesto del 3° Festival Dasos, la performance Grace Zone del The Social Body Dance Lab si interroga senza troppe pretese sull’esistenza e i limiti della creazione, dando vita a un’innocua sequenza di quadri più o meno conturbanti che, in mancanza di una solida linea narrativa, si accontenta di andare dalla terra al cielo, rivendicando un generico altrove iperuranico dove, a quanto pare, regna la grazia.
Φιλοξενείται στο πλαίσιο του 3ο Φεστιβάλ Δάσους του Κρατικό Θέατρο Βορείου Ελλάδος, η παράσταση Grace Zone της The Social Body Dance Lab αναρωτιέται απλά για την ύπαρξη και τα όρια της δημιουργίας, δίνοντας ζωή σε μια ακίνδυνη σειρά σκηνών σε κάποιο βαθμό συναρπαστικές οτι, λείποντας μια στέρεη αφηγηματική δομή, συμβιβάζεται με την ανύψωση από τη γη στον ουρανό, διεκδικώντας ένα γενικό ὑπερουράνιον τόπον όπου φαίνεται πώς βασιλεύει η χάρη.
As late contemporary dance juggernaut Pina Bausch once said, «to understand what I am saying, you have to believe that dance is something other than technique. We forget where the movements come from. They are born from life. When you create a new work, the point of departure must be contemporary life — not existing forms of dance». If any dance-enthusiast should always bear these words in mind, so should anyone who would like to attempt and analyse, if not criticise, a dance performance. Comparing any effort of contemporary movement with Ohad Naharin’s, Wim Vandekeybus’s or Jan Fabre’s standards is nothing short of counter-productive. Conversely, a good benchmark would be the communicativeness of said movements, and how a single gesture is able to move to compassion or inspire hatred.
Let us then have a closer look at The Social Body Dance Lab’s piece Grace Zone with the eyes of an observer, and not of a flaws-finder. Indeed, shortcomings are always to be expected in the context of an experimental lab, and their itemisation would only make for a smart-alecky rant based on inexistent ideals and useless theories. «The project expresses the effort of modern men to exist and create in an uncertain, often hostile environment», says the performance’s presentation, and from the very beginning we are thrown in a feverish and metaphorically-existential run through the infinite, looping twists and turns of life along a diagonal of predetermined and unavoidable rhythms. This harsh start reveals a surprising awareness of spaces and visual balances, used here to outline both with bodies and shadows a first conflict: that of flesh and mind.
After the lightning, usually comes the thunder, but the plain succession of scenes – articulated here only by means of music and sporadic lighting plays – limits what could have been a bursting feat of physicality and sets the pace for a slow descent into a canonical string of apparently unrelated events. From a swaying crowd of seaweed-like performers moving about the depth of the human – liquid – subconscious, we end up to a multitude of passers-by caught up in the gears of a post-industrial regress, a chocking machinery which closes in on everybody, as good old Charlie Chaplin reminds us in the Great Dictator’s monologue used here to show the path to reaction.
As a matter of fact, tired of stepping on one another for their own, selfish, personal profit, the fourteen performers learn the two-faced nature of existence, hanging between competition and interdependence, and thus move toward that redeeming Grace Zone were all movements suddenly try to reach the sky, probably tired of this misery we call earth. Ultimately, the quality of the dancers’ movement, albeit not jaw-dropping, gives substance to the show as a whole which, in turn, does not support in any moment their mortal struggle. If most of the expedients introduced throughout the hour-long attempt at communicating something were original and entertaining, the same cannot be said for the narrative structure, which never surfaced between beginning and end.
All in all, then, Katerina Antoniadou’s choreography could be deemed a very classical contemporary dance piece, an allegro con svago ma non troppo, if we were to use a blatantly out-of-context 18th Century terminology. The Social Body Dance Lab «aims at developing the dancer’s kinaesthetic consciousness as a unit but also as part of a body of co-operating bodies», but very few bodies are capable of walking straight if they have no idea where they are going, or what story they are trying to tell.
The show was played at
Theatre of the Society for Macedonian Studies (ΕΜΣ) – National Theatre of Northern Greece
Ethnikis Amynis str. 2 – Thessaloniki
from 10 to 11 June 2017
Saturday and Sunday 21.00
The Social Body Dance Lab presents
by Katerina Antoniadou
choreography and music editing Katerina Antoniadou
dancers Dimitra Alimbinis, Nadia Arvanitaki-Revi, Anna Thodou, Ioanna Karategou, Maria Keki, Evangelia Kyriakou, Lia Kostouli, Nikoleta Makriyianni, Domna Bikou, Margarita Panagiotou, Christina Pantelis, Glykeria Sakellariou, Georgia Sfakianaki, Athena Tamaki