4.5 : writing on dance : le ballet de l’opéra de lyon + the agency


Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon: Trois Grandes Fugues. 10.08.2018, Tanz im August, Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Berlin.

There’s something blissfully old fashioned about this programme which sees bodies – in different numbers, in different clothes, under different lighting conditions, with and without shoes – moving on a black stage floor against black stage walls. It’s as if we have travelled back to a time with utterly different aesthetic, political, and existential concerns, and as the monochrome kaleidoscope of Lucinda Childs‘ new-old work (made just in 2016 but full of Balanchine and heterosexual partnering) swirls before my eyes, I dream placidly. Take two to the same tune, 1992: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s dancers gallop on stage, filled with energy, virility, asymmetry, fuguing motifs of tilted arms, falls, and rolls, all exciting in their speedy complexity, just out-of-reach comprehensibility. Then a third time, but now the tones are clearer, lower, and it is Maguy Marin, 2001, with her dancers‘ naively bended knees and unpointed feet, that illustrates the nature of the fugue most, somehow delineating the structure of the sound while also drawing us into the throws of drama, the human form, nature, girlhood. Dance on stage.

THE AGENCY: Medusa Bionic Rise. 10.08.2018. Tanz im August, Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Berlin.

So when I like finally got in – I mean I don’t know why it took so long, I had a wristband – he was like „nice software“, but yeah the space was cool, a little dingier than I expected, but honestly it had everything you needed and when I got there there was like this super funny skinny guy dancing with his knees who came up to me and gave me a tiny drink in a tube, and my friends, who were standing in line for their drinks, were like oh my god, you’re the chosen one. We laughed but then this super cute girl approached me, Spike, and she was like, follow me, so we went to the back, she said I looked fit and asked me to box with her, and I mean, yeah, I was wearing velvet, so it was all a little impractical but we talked a lot about normative body images, like trying to get in shape, but for what, right!? Like do we only reinforce the trace of the patriachal past by creating its opposite, so like how not to do that, you know? They had these MBR TV reels playing, my favourite which was the makeup tutorial, good stuff there for a new future, totally, and then this concert started happening which was okay at first, they were like throwing themselves against the walls and banging metal around singing something like „fat calls for sweat“, but it really picked up and all came together somehow, so impressive, and this one girl was like such a good skipper! I don’t know maybe I can get you in next time since now I am totally –––

THE AGENCY: Medusa Bionic Rise. 10.08.2018. Tanz im August, Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Berlin.

<character mode> In a totally extreme approach, an only-by-selection door politics which excluded even press, THE AGENCY opened its Medusa Bionic Rise club to its chosen members (thankfully, looking – and being – totally alone and lost at the end of the evening, I was invited in). Thus in the basement of the Haus der Berliner Festspiel I found myself in their MBR headquarters, full of grit and futurism, sweat and post-digitisation. <analysis mode> The most enveloping aspect was perhaps just existing in the formidible space itself, with all of its materiality, possibilities, and social codes, but this was importantly punctuated by more focused interjections: a workout session, a room to watch video reels with MBR propaganda, a chatty personal history lecture from one of its members, bracing one-on-one dialogues, and a concert which began slowly from the workouts and whispers of the team until it took over the space in brutal rock cacophany. The conceptual nexus focused on the relationship between the body, technology, and sociality, how we train and manipulate our bodies, and for what ends, and here THE AGENCY’s slippery juxtaposition of self-improvement, capitalism, resistance, and technology remains confusing and exciting and troubling >> where do you stand?