Nothing’s for Something Mutations from Dance to Performing Art

Nélida Nassar   04.26.2014

Nothing’s for Something is an invitation to a journey through three different transitions from one ‘state of being’ to another. The performance begins as in classic dramaturgy with a frontal distribution on the stage, each side of which is divided into two rows, where curtains are held by four black helium- filled balloons. Another cluster of balloons appears in the center of the stage. The back curtain is also held up by twenty-four balloons. The floor is covered with a black cloth, further unifying the space. The first act opens with Johann Strauss, Jr’s Blue Danube Waltz, celebrated music that was composed specifically for dance.

Borrowing from the vocabulary of contemporary dance as well as from traditional repertory, the 2 male and 2 female performers lay on the floor encircled by the side-stage curtains/balloons. Rarely seen, the dancers activate and move the props with their arms and bodies, creating images which are beautiful and fluid but also powerful. One of the dancers re-positions the five sets of curtains/balloons in the aisles, thereby bringing the audience on stage. Triggered by computer-generated sensors, the floor’s fabric begins its own transformation into smooth sinusoidal waves. It is followed by the projection of the dancers’ silhouettes and by quick drawing marks reminiscent of Paul Klee. It is as if the floor’s cloth is scratched and the images are transferred onto its surface, making what is underneath visible and summoning it to life. The fabric levitates, and by now the drawings are moving vertically, flying bit by bit fly over the stage and over the audience to mysteriously disappear.

As the second transition proceeds, the dancers’ movements are deconstructed. The dance is punctuated by Fabrice Moinet and Johann Loiseau’s improvised music, composed of abstract, acoustic and concrete sounds – in fact, the noise generated by the audience as it enters the space. The music is gradually amplified without beat but with added rhythm. Here, Heine Avdal’s choreography objectifies the performers with clever on/off glimmers of light. The bodies are perceived moving gracefully in the dark, but when the light flickers they quiver and then become immobilized objects as if they were sculptures being chiseled at.

The first two transitions reveal what is behind the body and the body itself, thus altering and transforming dance first to movement then to object. The final transition produces a transformation into light and sound. A single white balloon attached to two propellers appears on stage attached to a sound sensor allowing Moinet’s breathing to be heard during the performance. This moment is full of poetry and lyricism. The floating balloon is soon followed by another one with a ticking clock sound, then another, until a total of nine white balloons has been reached. Simultaneously, a light projection of the city of Beirut in outline appears on the back wall of the stage; fragments of it are reflected on the surface of several of the balloons. It is accompanied by city sounds: a car honking and a muezzin calling to prayer. Maintaining the deconstructed moments and the piece’s fluidity and ethereal feel, the balloons keep floating long after the audience has left the theatre. The dancers never come on stage for a final bow.

Heine Adval and his group conduct their insatiable research into the expressive potential of new media, opening the way to further intersections and possibilities: through dialogues between dancers. Each performance seems to be richer than the earlier ones. But that is not all. The production is bound by an intense relationship to the particular characteristics of each performance space, making the most of the fact that no two cities or theatres are identical. The journey into the universes of dance and humanity is memorable.

The encounter with the dance in Nothing’s for Something is never simply an opportunity to explore the genre as such. It is also an access point, a stimulus to experience – through the balloons, the movement, the improvised music, the importation of the city’s outline and sounds – the entire world that is alive around it. Based on the intersection of worlds and languages, it encompasses movement, sound, improvisation, video and light projections bringing to life combinations and contrasts never seen before, to yield an ethereal yet sensuous experience. In sum, this cluster of dance transitions is transformed into performance art – to the evident delight of all those who were fortunate enough to be in the audience.

Presented during BIPOD Beirut International Platform of Dance 10th Anniversary 

Concept & Direction: Heine Avdal, Yukiko Shinozaki
Created & Performed by: Heine Avdal, Taka Shamoto, Yukiko Shinozaki, Oleg Soulimenko
Sound Design & Eectronics: Fabrice Moinet, Johann Loiseau
Lighting Design & Technical Direction: Hans Meijer
Drawing & Graphic: Brynjar Åbel Bandlien, Christelle Fillod
Dramaturge: Marianne Van Kerkhoven (Kaaitheater)
Creative Assistant: Saori Miyazawa
Electronic Assistant: Matthieu Virot
Technical Support: Culture Crew
Music: The Blue Danube – Johann Strauss
Production: Fieldworks vzw, Heine Avdal
Co-Production: Kaaitheater (Brussels) APAP Network Kunstencentrum, Buda (Kortrijk), BIT-Teatergarasjen (Bergen), STUK (Leuven)
In Collaboration With: WP Zimmer (Antwerp), Netwerk (Aalst), Vooruit (Ghent), MDT (Stockholm), Black Box Teater (Oslo), Teaterhuset Avantgarden (Trondheim),
Technologies: Custom PCB Design, Electronic, Mechanics, Programmable Controllers Museums: Kaaitheater

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