corporal experience: Out of Context – For Pina

‘Chorea’ is a medical term referring to an affected nervous system, the symptoms of which are jerky movements and poor coordination.

Finally I had the chance to see the entire piece ‘Out of Context – For Pina’ by Alain Platel | Les ballets C de la B. Though it was a thought-provoking experience on many levels, once because of the piece, which is a fascinating experience to see, but then also because of the circumstances, which accompanied my visit. It is quite known that Platel takes some of his inspiration from his former work is inspired from his experience as a special needs teacher, and thus one expects a refined attitude towards the movement, ability and personality of his performers. Nevertheless to sit through a performance not just with the admiration for the dancers perfection and precision of the imperfect, but the stinging pain of spasms marking one’s own body limits is a quite different one.

Out of Context – For Pina uses this very point of interest as a beginning for the exploration of the unconscious expression of the body and the defined space of choreography. Just that same day I had injured my back during some exercises, but was so happy to had gotten a ticket, that despite being hardly able to sit through it, I went to see the piece – which refers in the description of its choreography to the above mentioned definition of ‘Chorea’.

The piece which is described as the director’s continued

search for a language of movement connected to the unconscious, the arbitrary, the uncontrolled. The movement material covers the entire range of dyskinesia and dystonia, in other words: spasms, convulsions, tics. These can be very small mouth movements, teeth chattering, sticking out the tongue, eyes blinking, frowning, grimacing, moving the fingers as though they are playing the piano, briefly jerking the limbs, torso, pelvis or head, jolting the abdomen or diaphragm, balance impairment, falling over and a whole repertoire of silly walks. Small tics swiftly alternate with big swings. Restlessly and nervously. Platel has long resisted the label ‘choreographer’, but still arrives at this term in another way.

‘Chorea’ is a medical term referring to an affected nervous system, the symptoms of which are jerky movements and poor coordination. Platel uses virtuoso dancers for this. He isn’t so much interested in the unconscious as such, as he is in the tension between the wide range of uncontrolled movements and the traditional building blocks of choreography, such as the synchronised (simultaneous) execution of movements. In that ‘entre-deux’, the area of tension between the unconscious and the superconscious, a space opens up that is not just interesting to the director, but also and particularly to the dancers he has been working with for quite some time now.

(excerpted from the website of les ballets C de la B

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