Laurent Chétouane is for sure no „typical“ choreographer. He first studied engineering before he found his real passion for the theater. This might be the reason why his pieces have sometimes these untypical subjects. His latest work is “Out of Joint / Partita 1” which I could see at its premiere at Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin. It was sold out, although after entering the theater all seats stayed empty. Instead of the typical comparison of Audience and Stage, the spectators were led through a little door guided by security men to the Stage. And then let alone. Or so it seemed. You could feel that everyone was feeling unpleasant, not knowing where to go or what to do. A big crowd assembled at the back wall of the room, trying to hide into the shadows. But a few minutes later they moved as the three dancers shell out of the mob. Two men and one woman all dressed unobtrusively and barefoot. They shifted and stumbled almost weightless through the room, not minding the people who stood in their way. Chétouane wanted them to leave their learned moving repertory. He refers to Sigmund Freud’s thesis that human’s civilization began with walking upright and wants to find out what happens if you leave this posture. His experiment ends up with three dancers who barely remind of dancers. Their mind seems abstracted like they are lost in a parallel world. And the crowd starts to interact, people start to walk around either dodging the moving bodies or following them. After maybe 20 to 30 minutes the audience room is lit up and a violinist enters the room. His entrance means a goodbye to this special room constellation, the people are guided to their seats and we get our well-known spectator-actor relationship back. He is playing the Partitas by Johann Sebastian Bach and the dancers move themselves to it. But I have to admit, that second part couldn’t catch me anymore. I preferred to watch how the crowd reacts to the actors, how their discomfort slowly melts and their dialogue creates an endless stream of new situations, new rooms, new spaces. These spaces were the thing that constitutes this piece in my opinion and I would have liked if it would really savor this idea. After the performance, I talked to viewers and it was interesting how much their impressions differed from each other. Some people thought it was just really boring while others saw the subtlety through vulnerability. I personally missed the gracefulness that the dancers loosed through their surrender of determination, but as an experiment that functions and if it can be transported to the audience that really worked out well even though it might not work for everyone. So I keep a very torn memory of this piece and would be interested what your impression is like, there will be some more performances in February in Brussels and in April in Hamburg.
Picture by Cassidy Kelley
Text by Verena