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Communications from the Lab

Company: Ballett Frankfurt
Concept: Ivar Hagendoorn
Choreography: Ivar Hagendoorn in collaboration with the dancers
Music: Paula Matthusen
Costumes: Frédérique Daubal
Lighting design: Jan Walther
Dancers: Alejandro Alvarez, Esther Balfe, Francesca Caroti, David Kern, Brock Labrenz, Tamas Moricz, Ester Natzijl, Luis Rodriguez
Premiere: 15 January 2004 Ballett Frankfurt

A group of people rolls onto stage like a hand of dice. Each individual discovers his or her body and the surrounding space. Groups form. An individual is expelled. The group structure turns rigid. Two individuals try to break loose or perhaps they go crazy. The rigid organization dissolves. The group structure becomes fluid, organic and then dissolves into units of two, three or four until all groups once more unite only to be challenged by an individual aimed at splitting the group. The group turns to anarchy and chaos. And then. Quiet. A metaphor for life? For the folly of management re-organisations and re-engineering? You tell me.

The Theory

The piece is semi-choreographed and semi-improvised. Every scene is based on a set of principles for spatial and temporal organisation (more about the theory). Apart from a few musical cues the structure is entirely internally organized using only spatial and movement cues.

The individual movements are based on metaphors (e.g. "searching"), rules (move only in a particular way) and structured improvisations on choreographed phrases.

Most of the duets and trios are based on equivalence classes whereby the dancers can take on each others roles.

As a result every performance is different, yet structurally the same. Most scenes are also dimensionless to the extent that adding or removing one or several dancers doesn’t affect the structure, only the spatial density.

The final scene was inspired by the observation that the human visual system is very poor at discriminating both fast and slow movement. The dancers stand on stage like dead trees. Sometimes a leaf blows in the wind or a branch breaks off. They move very slowly, almost imperceptibly.

The Music

The music consisted of an immersive soundscape for 12 speakers, which were distributed across the entire space. Some people commented that the music in the solo was at times unpleasant. But does music have to be pleasant? The goal for some scenes was to have music that would be on the verge of being painful. Since people’s pain thresholds differ, for some it may have been painful. Going by the comments the music achieved the goal we set in advance.

The Flyer

The Symposium

Coinciding with my performance I organized an international symposium on "Dance and the Brain".