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Deconstructing the choreography show

Bloody Body (2006) A 'disinstallation' Professor Sergiu ANGHEL1 "I.L. Caragiale" National University of Theatre and Film Bucharest Choreography Department Director

Abstract: The 'performative' stage, as it has been referred to recently not lacking the intention of hurrying locally the act of prematurely accrediting a certain genre of performance the activity of dance companies in Romania (based on an imported model in Romania, of course) which continues to feed a long historical trend of borrowing in the East from the cultural West, regarded in our parts in the 'light' of the improbable Ex Occidente Lux is broken in two, as the stylistic cleavage and the audience attached to each option stand on radical positions, irreconcilable and aggressively antagonistic. On one side of the barricade are the styles: classical, neoclassical and modern 'tributary', from the 'new wave' perspective, to the logic of the 'spectacular spectacle', to the 'affirmative' attitude at the level of vehiculated meanings, being considered 'conservative' in relation to the proteicism of the experimental, and taking support in the 'public at large', and at the other end there is the 'performance', an anglicism that even though in Romanian it is translated by the word 'spectacol', is connoted locally rather as a non-spectacle phenomenon, opposed, therefore, to the 'spectacular spectacle', being based on an interrogative-dubitative logic, and regarded as 'radical' from an attitude perspective, innovative in style and absorbable by only a niche audience. The strife between the two worlds is fundamented in a nuanced philosophical standing: the attitude towards the body. 'Conservatives' are blamed for the 'outdated' taste for the 'beautiful body', for 'schmalzeries', a servile attitude towards the audience, whose satisfaction is reduced to the film of the retina, without having transversed their comforts, the obsolescence of scripts, the lack of involvement in reality, while 'performance' is blamed for its amateurishness, the abolition of dance specific techniques, the loss of choreography specificity, the delinquent slide into nihilism, non-art, non-dance, non-spectacle, genre blurring, etc. It is true that the experimental fury has recently opened up a highway for hybrid spectacular hybrids, collated, combined, agglutinated, all bursting out into the intersection without signs of the 'installation', the kind of 'performance' where everything is allowed, where anyone can perform or performs in any way, even in the dark. At the peak of such 'revolutionary' attitude we can place the 'show' with which the CNDB (Bucharest National Center for Dance), an institution cloned only in the face, not the spirit of CNDD (Centre National de la Danse), started its career, where the two protagonists stood still in front of the audience for... 30 minutes, with the only set consisting of a lit light bulb, while the continuation of this show was a spectacle lasting one hour during which the light bulb was shut the entire time...

Sergiu Anghel graduated with a degree in choreography in Cluj and Bucharest, having previously obtained a degree in letters at the University of Bucharest, with a major in Romanian and a minor in French. His PhD thesis was entitled 'Archetype Dance in 2002'. He is a member in full standing of CIDD-Unesco and of ITI-Bucharest. He has printed two specialty books and has authored over 20 TV film shows, having written the scripts and dramatic texts of those works. He has been made an Officer of the Order for Education (

Keywords: performance, installation, postmodern, deconstruction, contemporary dance. Introduction Bloody body2 is an essay-show about the body seen in its twofold perspective of visceral accessory of an ineffable I, and, subsequently, of simple level of density of the human entity seen as a paradoxical unity of the gross and the ethereal. Historically speaking, European culture has placed the debate on the body on a sinuous trajectory that traverses a first instant of appreciation of the body (the Greco-Roman antiquity), followed by an acute depreciation of it (aurora Christianity), to then reach a peak of adulation nowadays. A true TABOO close to yesterday, the body runs the risk of becoming a TOTEM. It is enough to read a few fetish pages written by Andre Lepecki (2004), a theoretician of Brazilian-American dance, vaguely neo-Marxist and obviously pro-avant-garde popularized in our parts by a few local resonators in order to see how one could speak about skin, perspiration, muscles, tendons, nails or pubic hair in a lexical trance equivalent to that of Tertullian in 'De Carne Christi'. Sometime in the 1980s, when dialectic materialism had become simple dialect, and when most of my friends, refusing the (im)possible epiphany of the 'new man' were squinting hind wise, towards the Tabor Light of a necessary 'epiphany' of the darkness that had grasped all our bodies and souls, speaking of salvation in spirit, and seeking into the calendar a date at which to withdraw into a monastery, I was dancing like a satyr on all stages and at all temperatures, leering at the trinitary ideologies of any inspiration (including the triumviral MarxEngels-Lenin), expiring copiously the voluptuousness of 'eternal' youth without any anguish of accounting. Today, in the age of the naked navel, of the triumph of 'Maya Desnuda', a probable sign of a time when there is an agreement being put between naked and nakedness, between non-culture and nonchalance, between non-idea and non-art, all well blended into the 'latest generation' of postmodern 'consistencies', baked at the (micro) waves of our brains, I am waxing nostalgic at the themes of inconsistency of the numenal body, Bloody Body being, in this case, the sacrificial object to which I want to give new life through spilling its arterial blood, followed by an urgent transfusion of it with light. I would even say, as I've said another time, that 'The image of the human body and its excessive capitalization done in itself can no longer be infinitely remelded into a static effigy of our culture and civilization. It may rather play the part of an Iphigenia on whose sacrifice it would depend for the divine wind to be able to inflate the veils of a sailing imagination.' (Sergiu Anghel 2007). The Multimedia Space The first difficulty faced by a choreographer when his workflow is based on a fairly clear concept is, of course, the way in which one can cover the distance between the directing lines of the concept and the concrete forms which they have to order in the 'sensible matter' of the final scenic act. To have an idea (a purely theoretical, pure potential of the show), to which you must subsequently find the most appropriate stage match, may push you towards architectural style constructions, with the creative process risking to become a building site for the tyranny of the 'plane', with the artist reduced to the role played by a builder condemned to function within its limits. And so it comes to be that in the work area in which the concept has not yet been thrown overboard with only the tools of its techniques being sabotaged 3 - vague texts start taking shape, in fact pretexts for starting

Bloody Body, Orion Balet production, script and choreography by Sergiu Anghel, premiered 29 April 2006, CNDBBucharest. The text that follows is the argument presented in the show's brochure. We are referring here to some of the so-called 'conceptualist' shows correlated to the 'non-dance' phenomenon (a trendy phenomenon in the Romanian choreographic space of the beginning years of the CNDB 2000-2005, where the concept, consisting usually of a few lines lacking any congruence sent to anywhere and nowhere at the same time, evidencing only the claim of the authors of saying something, when in fact the obvious programatic intent was of that of

off from anywhere and getting 'somewhere', the final point having in fact no finality, and being usually sterile, consubstantial with the 'fertile ambiguity' invoked in the premises. There you have an example among many similar or identical in spirit which defined the intellectual climate and the aesthetic position of the exclusive group had monochordically imprinted itself on a nationally ranked institution, called by its very statutes to support all stylistic orientations in the national choreographic landscape:

Fig. 1

'We live far away from these coquettish places, in a castle at the crossroads between west and upper east, far up there, left on the map, in the Northern Reach with city accents, where falling stars get numbered with aplomb and select manners. We have a very exact schedule which we observe to the letter: we knit, we swoon, We knit, we swoon, We knit, we swoon, We knit, we swoon... Periodically we peruse brochures full of missing letters,

We do our manicure with iodine, We grab the little one, We scrutinize him and throw him in the air three times, We douse him in flour, We beat him well with the rolling pin and ready's the meal... Etc. etc.' (Madalina Dan, 'The Illusionists', a project financed by CNDB based on this concept.) The Aesthetic Option

Placing such a 'conservative' show in such a 'wolf's den' supposedly taking on the major risk of a mutual stylistic mismatch between a certain type of audience and a certain type of show, corresponds to the Bruegel parable instantiated in 'The Rich Kitchen'. How can you make a show that would speak to an audience already used to the taste of the void, or, at best, of mockery, of antithesis without thesis, of demolishing without constructing, or, worse, of demolishing as a gesture in itself? Obviously, the content declaredly and accusingly against a fetishist attitude towards nudity as an imperative in itself of the conceptualist 'brand name' had to be glazed with trendy, making passable the active substance of the antidote. How can one make a 'trendy' show nowadays? Retro projection is obligatory. Writing with a marker or with lipstick on the body is recommended, having the value of a 'mot de passe', etc. Creating a 'multimedia' space is an obligatory must, if I may be forgiven this intended pleonasm. Another ingredient is a dram of morbidity. I did not use 'involuntary' urine seepage, scrotum
taking upon oneself the nonchalant of the nonsensical. Within the context of the phenomenon denominated as 'nondance' still making recourse to 'programatic' text lacking any program mush be seen as a paradoxical inertial presence, of 'conservative' origin, in a space where the only compositional rule was abolishing the rules of composition.

unfolding out in the open, or other 'choreography themes that I suggested to the interpreters, these artifices of shock value being already exhausted in the works of Jerome Bel, one of the 'Prometheuses' which the epimetheuses from CNDB filled their 'treasure' chests with, learning the technique of cheating the 'public god' by cladding in a conceptualist fat the skeletal remains of the pile of bones produced as a result of demolishing structural principles. Stage Design and Lights The play space (fig. 1) was simple: a 'black box' sprinkled with magnesium powder to allow the light to support itself in the floor. In the background, cold, slightly macabre, reigned a rudimentary bathtub, with butcher shop porcelain, a few taps and stainless pipes. On the screen in the background there was a Soviet '50s film reel looping, commented by Americans, with lugubrious scientific experiments on laboratory dogs with various organs removed, maintained alive artificially by means of an arterial pump. The climax of the film which occurred several times during the show was provided by a dog's head removed from the body which kept alive reacted to sounds, touch, light and taste. The dancers were randomly wrapped in medical gauze applied over body makeup, mimicking leprosy textures. Two of the five artists were transformed in the support for a sophisticated installation of tubes of various diameters used for transfusions, through which, from a hidden place behind the head, a red liquid imitating blood flowed out, which traversed unpredictable courses depending on the network of tubes anchored chaotically on the bodies of the dancers, based on the principle of communicating vessels. On the dance stage, spectators Fig. 2 used to seeing a light bulb or see (almost) nothing, met two living corsages whose blood slowly flowed into two water tubs in which the entire process was reflected as in a mirror. Used with shows with no music, or with music played on a cheap cassette player, the spectators entered a slightly strange space, looming, regulated at the limit of hearing and modulated on various frequencies from infra to ultrasounds. The movement of the dancers had an obsessive slowness, marked by dizzying accelerations and pigmented by freezing of movement which could last for minutes on end. The whole suggested the unavoidable decomposition of bodies, hanging from a hypothetical resuscitation through the 'Soviet' techniques of reanimating a dead body. Our message was explicit: the body is not, cannot be a fetishistic object. Nor can it be a place where to put all the maledictions of human nature. The body is a habitable place, impossible to leave; it is neither beautiful, nor ugly; neither granite, nor ephemeral insect; neither weak, nor strong; neither sinning, nor saint; neither light, nor darkness, etc. etc. All these themes were somehow reviewed through some suggestive choreographic stagings during which the dancers played either with their light or their shadows, or a couple of full or empty objects (two oversized glasses) out of which they could drink air or blood, depending on the destiny of the character... The end of the show was marked by the violent passage from the macabre black and white projection to a

baroque painting in colors, in fact a huge fresco with civilian people posing nude 4, standing up, in the balconies and the full floor of a theater venue of the Scalla type (fig. 2). In our aesthetic conception, a baroque ending, in opposition to the previous tableau, of a sublimated Gothic, presented the potential of a tipping point, preparing the perception of an idea of possible transformation of the being and its strength to transgress apparent limitations.

The scene was completed by a bridge, occupied along its impressive length by nudes laying down in an orderly fashion, like railroad ties, a bridge against which the last interpreter left alive after the gradual decomposition of the other bodies seemed to move towards a point on the stage, where, dissimulated behind a dummy armed with an entire network of LEDs, turned into a body of light, marking as we believe the invitation to reflect on the body not from a static and limited perspective of it, but from one where the somma may be understood as a temporary limitation of the illimitable, as a fertile seed of a becoming without arrival. Loaded with such reverberation, the corporeal image of the anthropos, the generic human being, may regain its originary intangibility, too often stained by the postmodern strategies of derision, depreciation and disconsideration. Contrary to the Nostradamic predictions of CNDB parishioners, the show, presented in a packed house, was successful, reason for which, after the second showing, it was removed from the repertoire of the Center. Vision and Staging Between the virtual pole of a show (the vision) and the concrete one (setting it for stage) we can discern chiasmic games caught in the energy of a paradoxical dynamic. The generational cleavage separating conceptualists from the '80s stylistic dissimulated within our show has, aesthetically speaking, a simple reason; while the '80s people rejecting de plano the communist regime and the existential 'void' in which they were forced to live, placed their philosophical searching in areas 'full' of meaning, opposing to the dialectic materialist ideology the defiance of orientations imbued by spiritualism, the conceptualists, embracing eagerly the 'annunciation' of western capitalism, and concluding that their prophesied brat, once born and implemented in the post-communist crche in the East, did not bring with it the eagerly expected 'salvation of the nation', reacted to its 'fullness' with the most concrete weapons of derision and negation, postulating an aesthetic of subversion and active social criticism, operated in a cooperativist climate of work of a kolkhoz nature. In a bizarre way probably sociologically explainable the '80s generation, having broken out of the stifling shell of a hermetic ideology, ended up by adopting a philosophy open to capitalist-liberal-individualist values, while the offspring of the anti-communist revolution started attacking the symbols of the newly installed capitalism with proletarian fury, within the organized framework of tiny groups with common ideological status, specific to former party cells. We could point here to dozens of anticorporate texts or to ridiculous theories referring to the 'reptilian' character of world leadership, etc. if such approaches were not obviously integrated in the subculture areas of the Internet. As a continuation of this 'philosophy', even the private institutions they structure bear significant names: 'Institute of Culture', 'Art Cooperative', etc., the adopted iconography being itself of proletcult inspiration. The agonic of the aesthetic space in contemporary choreography corresponds with the opening of a front of tensions of a social and economic nature. The defeats in one space generate either compensations or counteroffensives in areas non-specific to the cultural debate. The chasm between the

Spencer Tunick, -Stadschouwburg theatre in Belgium.

two orientations was often attributed falsely to a generational conflict, attempting to disguise under an appearance of 'normalcy' much deeper tensions. They are we believe of four kinds: 1. historical 2. political 3. psychological 4. conceptual. Historically, the generation which is now between 35 and 40 years of age was raised and educated in the period when communist repression was growing sharper. It is well known that the '70s, before the famous 'April Theses', 1978, were felt by Romanian intellectuals as a period of relaxation and have influenced the minds of many intellectuals, who either joined the Communist Party or ceased to consider the policy of the party in government as structurally allogeneic. It was normal for differences of opinion to emerge between the two age contingents in terms of how each related to the past. It was to be expected for the psychological tension under which this contingent emerged to leave traces in their deep psyche, the immediate, classical consequence being a muted conflict with the paternal archetype, and, by extension, everything that may be resonated with it: the authority, the 'boss', the Academy, the 'rule', the establishment, traditional institutions, hierarchies, the church, etc. The domestic choreographic conceptualism did not have as in other places purely conceptual mechanisms. Reflection on dance over here was clad rather with the shadows of discontent of a social and professional nature, and ended up vehiculating dark theories and artistic acts: derision, mockery, parody, denying the past, individual martyrism, up rootedness, challenge, direct protest, diversion, etc., acclimatizing in a terrain become receptive allogeneic concepts such as 'the destabilization of reality through art', 'occupy', etc. Believing to be the representatives of art avant-garde, the zealots of the 'new' theories would probably be very disappointed if beyond a perception of fashionable they would discover that their orientation is of a leftist nature, and has at its source the thinking of a patriarch, Stphane Hessel, born in 1917... whose 48-page work 'Indignez-Vous!' was the basis for occupy type attitudes.
That a critical attitude towards society though necessary does not always perfectly merge with the artistic gesture seems to be unknown among the 'authors' of 'performance' of this type, whose stated methodology 5 obviously contains 0% art and 100% social attitude. Claiming emphatically to 'recover banned art' with financing from the AFCN, a structure within the Ministry of Culture, which finances not credible artists, but 'incredible' projects, forms of 'art' which are not only not banned, but on the contrary, financed by the state, does not seem to upset the offensive 'logic' of the authors. Obviously, everything is a major error in the GPS of Romanian avantgarde. Without Wall Street, the Wallachian occupy seems more like a major lack of occupation... Just like the advance guard of an army corps is made up of its military elite, we would have expected that in art that particular cultural phenomenon would comply with the elective principle and the rules for deployment of forces. Simply breaking off from the main body of troops and placing oneself in front of them in space does not ipso facto guarantee the exceptional character of those that broke off from the general march; many times, enemy troops pick off from this 'advanced' position deserters from the supply corps...

'Working Methodology Combines Performance with Techniques of Subversive and Contestation Art', Ioana Paun, 'A Program of Destabilizing Reality Through Art', a project for recovering banned culture, produced by the Generosity Offensive and financed by the AFCN. It is supported by MNAC, Platform space, Workshop 35, UBB Clum, UNATC and Iasi Art University.

Fig. 3

Within this context, 'Bloody Body' represents not just a protest with motivations in the restrictive communist era, but one generated by the new restrictive situation of culture through which paternalistic culture was succeeded just as actively, by a filial one. The interference of the filmic in the show also uncovers, in an (auto)ironic manner, the concession made to the host institution and its 'priests' in order to easier pass by the guardians of the threshold in order to be able to expose its own 'conservative' localized system of reference, at the level of the choreographic sign. At the same time, my education, based on the postmodernism of the '80s, generated a specific symbolism, often characterized by mocking of the new non-specific techniques which emerged at the periphery of the same aesthetic direction.

Conclusions Bloody Body brings together the impulses of an avant-garde socially tied to the communist period, as well as the artificialist aggressions of the present period. As you can see from the sketch (fig. 3), the space is intentionally laid out in a triangular symmetry, between the two 'pools of water' which initially reflect with the clarity of a mirror some parts of the set, segments of human bodies and faces from the audience, turning into pools of blood where the vital element of the human body trickles out, 'darkening' its perishable adulated beauty. At the tip of the triangle, prideful and studied, sits enthroned the screen with the 'horror' projections which stipulate the possibility of keeping the dead body alive, the prolongation to infinity of the 'physical' through machines and the machinations of new technologies. In this set, in which everything is covered by the shadow of death, and over which are drawn the opaque curtains of arterial blood above the two eyes of the two 'mirrors' which at first looked at the world clearly (the universe, actors and spectators), a single body, playing with light, manages to integrate it to its being and to escape the entropic vertigo which aspires the vital flows of the 'cursed-

bloody bodies'. Saving the body from the excessive and tendentious exploitation of its symbolism, which crucified it on the antagonistic power lines between instancing it as a 'temple of God' down to its postmodern institutionalization as a place of turpitude or an abode of venerating its perishability, seemed to us to be able to constitute the ideatic axis of our show; the hope according to which the cursed and bloody body, through accentuating its lack of consistence, will no longer be turned into a flag of flesh to be used in the context of ideological and artistic battles. Bloody Body was a show invited from without the predilect circle of CNDB parishioners, after the press had published accusations against the director of the institution related to the 'endogamic' policies he applied to the Center's productions. The sudden 'opening' of the repertoire policy towards other genres was obviously concealing a hypocrisy, and the scenario of confronting a team cataloged as 'conservative' with the niche audience already formed and loyal was supposed to cause a rejection of the project which would have justified the regrouping of the repertoire in the 'revolutionary' routine of the Center. Within this tension, the author of the show aware of the 'Greek gift' contained in the invitation, chose the strategy of disguise: designing a show with the appearance of performance, but lacking any of its typical characteristics. This strategy which bore fruit opened the perspective of a reflection on the socio-cultural role and aesthetic conflicts in the emergence of new spectacle genres. Since the show gave the impression of an 'installation', being in essence nothing other than its opposite and trying to disassemble the articulations of such a construction, the subtitle of the work given not without a certain irony was 'disinstallation'. In the dynamic of mutual negations, where the structural imperative claimed emphatically by 'conservatives' is answered with an aesthetic of destructuring, we tried to build a show whose structure (a building principle in the need for which we believe) be based on the deconstruction of the deconstructive show... obtaining thus a construction made up of the antagonistic structural elements of deconstruction. Since dance in Romania can never be a Sagrada Familia, a strange coincidence with the architectural principle of anti-gravitation applied by Antonio Gaudi to his masterpiece may solve the difficulties of a future pacified Romanian choreographic edifice which could emerge after an effort of negating negation. The common wisdom according to which experimentalism is 'revolutionary' par excellence, while the old forms invariably get beached into a cul de sac may be answered with the solution of the coincidentia opositorum, relative to the rediscovery of the perennial modernity of the archaic and archetypal, a cultural reality which traverses the whole of modern sculpture, from the influence in Europe of black Africa to Brancusi, and, on this true line, even beyond him. Bibliography - Lepecki, Andr ( 2004). Of the presence of the body : essays on dance and performance theory . Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press. - Anghel, Sergiu( 2007). Brochure of the show Bloody Blody. Bucharest: Orion Balet. - Hessel, Stphane (2010). 'Indignez-vous!', Montpellier, Indigne ditions, Ceux qui marchent contre le vent.