Fri 15-10-2004 : klara (radio), Dominique van Besien

The performance you saw yesterday had something to do with the way our bodies are composed of cells and genesÖ and dance is connected in some way with that ? "Well yes, actually you get two different lines in this whole story. On one hand there is the story of the composition of a body out of different genes and cells, and this might relate it to the way a computer is constructed or how language is constructed: it is a matter of a combination of codes. You could see this as a handy trick to relate computer music and dance. Another way of looking at it is: if you zoom in on the body this extremely and you arrive at the level of genetic code ñ by doing exactly this you alienate yourself from your own body." If you observe it on a microscopic level ? "Yes. And then you realise you are not that special at all as an individual, that you don't differ that much from other organisms and that you only become human through the eyes of another human being. That is definitely a concept that they use in this performance." What is very special about this performance is that you are handed a set of headphones and that you are allowed to enter into some 'dancing environment', isn't it ? "It is not a performance in which the audience is seated in chairs in a theatre looking into a black box. Here they want to create an experience. Not only the headphones, also the fact that you have to leave your shoes at the entrance, is responsible for that. It also makes that you are going to walk around much more careful. You are sent into a dark space that is full of bamboo hanging in the space. The shape of it could maybe refer to the structure of DNA, or at least the design might be inspired by it. At first you don't know what to think of it: you can normally not walk through a work of art; you have the impression there is not enough space out in the open for the audience, so you are forced to work your way through the bamboo. Suddenly light spots appear in the bamboo, a lot of colours, and then you get to see the dancers. There are two dancers, a man and a woman, and they behave rather 'strange'. They lie on the floor in a position that is all tensed up, or they sit down and they you notice a hand that is exploring a face, it crawls over the face as if it did not belong to the same body. That is the alienation we were talking about: the dancers are alienated from their own bodies ·nd they are alienated from the audience." Do they also interact with the audience? Since you are moving amongst them? "In the beginning you tend to move out of the way as soon as a dancer comes near you, so as to create a frontal performer-spectator situation. At times a half-circle is formed by the audience around the performer, on a safe distance so to say. Gradually this strategy grows more difficult as soon as the dancers appear at different locations, their movements faster so that the audience sometimes feels as if it is being chased, but then after a while you understand that you don't need to move out of their way. They are seeking contact and start to move very consciously in between two people, or lie down next to people sitting near. That means a very close contact arises between dancers and audience, but at the same time the relationship remains strange, since you are wearing these headphones and consequently you belong to a world apart from them. You never hear the dancers, there is no moaning or shuffling about the dance floor; in that respect they can appear next to you out of the blue, without you noticing." Do you then feel you are sharing something with the other spectators? "Well, after a while you realise it is in fact not so important what you are looking at precisely. In the very beginning of the spectacle you could see some people were continually trying to find out what could be the best viewing spot from where they could watch the show. At a certain moment you give up. Then you are happy just finding yourself in this bamboo environment with the fading of colours and shadows; you see a leg or an arm moving and that is enough; you don't need to see them dancing with one another or something. The audience shares a common feeling of some sort in the way that the dancers are moving through the group of spectatorsÖ and the group of spectators moves around the performers, the group behaving as one body around them." Now is this a good production? It's a nice experiment yes, but... "Well. It all makes sense if you think about it. What they want to happen, does happen. The title of this production is 'closer', and while in the beginning you experience this alienation, near the end they are moving closer and closer and closerÖ very carefully and in a totally unspectacular fashion but they really approach each other. At the very end they are looking at you, the audience. These are very beautiful moments. Also, you feel as a spectator that you have to comply with something, you need to give yourself an attitude: you smile back at them, or you keep up a serious face, you need to react to them in what they are doing. So they force you to take up a certain position; it' s nice to see that you have to take a stance." But this story about cells and genes, etceteraÖ Was this necessary? "No. It seems to be a trick to make the performance very contemporary. The intimacy and closeness result in a beautiful performance. This is also a performance that turns upside down all relations between different media as dance, set, lights and soundÖ all of these media are prominently present and none of them has priority over the other. That works extremely well."