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PARALLEL REALITIES OF DANCING BODY

By Katja imuni PLESNASCENA.hr 8 June 2011


The 28th Dance Week Festival, Zagreb and Rijeka, 24 May 2 June 2011: After Trio A, concept/choreography: Andrea Bozic

Conceptual choreography After Trio A by choreographer Andrea Bozic in collaboration with visual artist Julia Willms and composer Robert Pravda is a dialogue with the cult dance phrase Trio A by Yvonne Rainer. It is an exceptionally subtle and exciting work that problematizes both the performers and the spectators presence and perceptual attention, issues of physical memory and the place in the network of artistic heritage. The 5-minute long Trio A dance phrase by American dancer, chorographer and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer is a paradigmatic work of post-modern dance. It was originally made as the first part of the choreography titled A Mind Is A Muscle, with its premiere at the Judson Church in 1966. It was danced in silence, simultaneously but not in a unison by David Gordon, Steve Paxton and Yvonne Rainer herself. Since then, this dance phrase was danced in many configurations and variations, it was taught on a one-to-one basis via the authorized transmitters of the dance or independently, or it was learned in groups and was sometimes danced by up to fifty dancers at a time. It was danced to rock music, to spoken text, by naked performers with the US flags wrapped around their necks, it was danced backwards or in step shoes. Yvonne Rainer transmitted Trio A herself to the dancers of the Baryshnikovs White Oak Dance Project company calling it Trio A Pressured #3. (This was part of a several days programme titled Past/Forward in 2001 for which Mikhail Baryshnikov invited David Gordon, Steve Paxton, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown,

Lucinda Childs and Debora Hay to stage their performances with the dancers of his company.)

When asked why this dance phrase was so significant, Yvonne Rainer said: The simplest answer is: because it has survived as the only choreography of mine that has been preserved intact in the form of a video recording. It was a 16 mm film recording made in 1978 that was transferred to video. I myself am the solo dancer in it. Since I had actually stopped dancing in 1975, I am very critical about my performance in the video. However, it can be used as a source and means to get to know my work not as a whole but one aspect of my work. (From a lecture given by Yvonne Rainer as part of the seminar The Audience In Singular Plural, (Paris, 2001) chaired by philosopher Vronique Fabbri and organized by the College international de philosophie and Centre National de la Danse.) Owing to this short film (available on youtube) produced by Sally Banes, the author of Terpsichore in Sneakers, postmodern dance (1978), a canonical work on the American post-modern dance, Trio A was democratized and multiplied. Taking the above mentioned film as her reference material, Andrea Bozic invites two new dancers from the local dance community that had not seen the recording of Rainers choreography previously for each performance of After Trio A. Or rather, who had at least not watched it studiously as it is difficult to imagine that any conscientious member of a contemporary dance scene of any background had not been acquainted with this anthological work. In the performance presented at the 28th Dance Week Festival, the dancers were Sonja Pregrad and Iva Hladik, two dancers of exceptionally raised awareness and interesting authors themselves, representative members of the Croatian independent dance scene.

The onstage space in After Trio A is organized as an audio-visual installation. Two large screens in the background, Julia Willms behind a table on the left, and a sound installation with a speaker hanging on chains and two cushions on the floor on the right, used by Robert Pravda to produce wondrous, powerful and unpredictable musical noise. Upstage there is a monitor hidden by a screen and in the last row of the audience Andrea Bozic at a table from which she runs the whole performance, dozing fragments from Sally Banes film and projecting sentences from Yvonne Rainers No Manifesto (1965). We mentioned already that Trio A was originally danced as a trio and was recorded as a solo. In her cover, Andrea Bozic operates within this instability in the number of performers so that from the point of view of the audience After Trio A begins as a solo. Sonja Pregrad is alone on stage learning the dance phrase from the monitor on the floor, turned towards her but hidden from the audience. The dancer learns the two minute dance phrase in such a way that, in the movement transfer, she does not stop in parts or for details that she does not manage to get but she keeps the continuity and goes on, always starting anew from the beginning. This is accentuated by Julia Willms who sounds a little bell at her table on the side of the stage for every new beginning.

A significant characteristic of Trio A is that the performer never looks at the audience directly. Yvonne Rainer says that this was a strategy for her to question performers narcissism that feeds on the relationship of being watched and watching. Rainers gaze is mostly decentralized in relationship to the audience and when she finds herself directly facing the audience, she closes her eyes. The principle of not looking at the audience is taken over by Andrea Bozic too, in such a way that Sonja Pregrads eyes are wide open and always glued to the choreographic material. When the second dancer Iva Hladnik joins, she learns the dance phrase looking at Sonja Pregrads dance who looks at Yvonne Rainer dance who never looks at the audience while dancing her choreography. A complex choreography of looking and not looking is established. After Trio A affirms the strategy of not looking at the audience via the dancers intense concentration not to miss a movement they are to embody. This concentration of the dancers onto the choreographic material produces their special presence on stage. This presence is highly intense and, despite the repetition of the same dance sequence, always excitingly new and unpredictable in constant potential of making a mistake in memorizing the movement. The Trio A dance is far from being simple even though it operates within the range of pedestrian, ordinary movement and proclaims non-virtuosity (more in: Jill Sigman, How Dances Signify: Trio A and the Myth of Ordinary Movement, in Kretanja 5, Zagreb, 2006). The performers courageousness in exposing the process of learning, adaptation and memorizing of all but simple dance additionally sharpens our perception and evokes enthusiasm in the audience. Among the two live performers, one filmed performer and the audience, a complex collaboration of gaze is established.

About half way through the performance, the video recording is stopped and Sonja Pregrad repeats the movement she memorized. Iva Hladnik follows her with a minimal offset in time, almost in unison. Sonja Pregrad cannot remember some parts. She stops. Her body thinks. She moves on. Iva Hladnik follows her with her body turned into a gaze. The bodies slowly get tired in the continuous repetition of sequence. The dancers persevere. The bodies change, they are ever more imbued with Yvonne Rainers dance gestures. What Laurence Louppe calls the work of dance reveals itself in front of us. New layers sediment: on the screen, the recording of a part of the original choreography is played again, as well as the recording of Sonja Pregrad learning the dance, and the sentences from Yvonne Rainers programme text No Manifesto such as: No to spectacle; No to virtuosity; No to style; No to camp; No to the glamour and transcendence of the star image; No to seduction of spectator by the wiles of the performer; No to moving or being moved etc. Counterpointing these instructions, Andrea Bozic introduces mistakes: Sonja Pregrad, who has so far danced wearing everyday dance training clothes (comfortable light coloured trousers, a floppy top, sports shoes), puts on a glamorous green glittery top. And Iva Hladnik puts a hat on her head. And they continue dancing the same two minute loop. The camp strategy is amplified by Julia Willms who participates in the performance by coming onstage dressed as a magician juggling with three balls, skilfully always catching two while the third one is still in the air. The performance ends with this trio of balls.

In the dark, we look at the elliptic traces of the greenish fluorescent light left behind by the balls flying in the air. As though the trio of the dancing bodies has disintegrated into particles, into a concept, an enthusiastic quantum choreography. After Trio A has multiplied the dialogue with Trio A and realized a powerful parallelism of various realities of the same choreography, uncovering Andrea Bozic as courageous, intelligent and imaginative dance dialogue partner to Yvonne Rainer.

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