Photo: Karoliina Loimaala

Performances in exchange, retrospective 1

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Notes from exchange, performance diary

This is a performance diary that I did during my exchange in Florianópolis Brazil that I am now going back to. I mainly saw performances during the week of Dance, which was organized by the Federal University of Santa Catarina, where I studied Portuguese. Another piece that I will describe here, was presented in State university of Santa Catarina, Udesc, as a part of master studies. Other performances I saw were on streets of Salvador, during the independence day of Bahia in the beginning of July, learning samba on spot as well as following the mass spectacles of demonstrations and people (immense amount of students) marching on streets actively participating their education and possibilities to make decisions on their own futures. These following performances were part of the week of dance.

 

27.5. Acão performática: Colonia, mobilidade, emergente de autonomia coletiva

– Cena11 Cia de danca

One of Brazil´s biggest dance companies Cena 11, held a workshop, and as an end made a performative action in the opening night of week of dance. The colonial history is still very present in Brazil, not less in the dance field. The work consisted of around 40 people, and different movement motives everybody would simultaneously attend to. One motive followed another throughout the one hour of performance. Some motives seemed to be task -based, designed for a big group of people, tasks that demanded collaboration to get through them. Collaboration was not really found. For me, the audience was following rambling, disagreeing mass of people having solo moments on stage sometimes coming to agreement and participating in a mist of same sphere. There was a moment when all the people would form a common rope with connecting hands with one another. Next step was to decide which way to go as it seemed. A consensus where to go was never found. In final movement there was a division of the big group of people in two. A task was done while balancing on a chair that was upside down standing only on its peaks, it was combined with stripping clothes, and shouting with a long duration voice getting stronger and stronger. Only the performers belonging to the company did the balancing action, other people standing next to their chairs, a moment which created different levels of people from Cena 11 and workshop participants, spreading through the auditorium some higher some lower. Vocal mass was somewhat excruciating and vivid.

There was lot of individual variation throughout the performance. Choreographic structure was one motive after another during rather equal blocks of time. Dramaturgy followed a golden cut getting more intense at 3/4. During the performative action, I was reminded by stubborn human mind, egoism, sometimes present difficulty of collaboration, hierarchies, insecurities, desires, and colonial past and present. This kind of friction in collaboration is probably familiar to many. How to be in that state of disagreement? The bigger our differences, the bigger conflicts - how to stay mobile in a conflict? - another question floating on the surface of many parallel dance fields at the moment. I felt this performative action somewhat unsettling while sitting stably still.

 

28.5. Instalacão choreografica: Biblioteca de danca

 – Neto Machado e Jorge Alencar (Bahia/Mundão),

Installation of library of dance, consisted of 3 hours duration, four tables where you could go to sit, and in each table, there was a performer, who would present one chapter at a time, of her personal library as an artist. Depending on a person, performers were dressed differently, were talking more or dancing. There was a guide at the ´entrance´, to inform you about the course of events.

I listened to all five chapters in my table, performed by Claudia, which were mainly vocal, with some movement inside.

The artist would tell poetic stories of her first made choreography, what urged her into the work, a story of family violence, being silent, two others. Stories would end with discussions.

I was struck by the intimacy that was present in the event, we were all very close, sharing personal stories, me feeling surprisingly good about speaking Portuguese, as well as relatable stories she was telling. The performer made me want to engage into a conversation, which would not happen in a bigger situation with many people, I would be shy and lean back. I could simultaneously see what was happening in a further table, where a (probably) Bahian woman (the company was from Bahia), would move vigorously, energetically, yet not “stealing a thunder of other tables”. Set up was very simple and inviting. I stayed curious about other tables, I arrived at the last hour so I only shared time with one table.

What I found inviting and tickling for me in this performance, was my appetite to hear stories related to artists there. The performance was knitted from their descriptions and reminiscing with their flesh like watching remains of a once built sandcastle, my own completing of the rest I guess, and our discussions. I enjoyed the moving bodies and voices of whispering, or a bell of a costume tingling. I was knitting the performance calmly with the performer next to me, by them offering me many different levels where to grab onto what was going on. I saw an invisible fabric knitted before my eyes, which was keeping me intrigued. A combination of these factors created another energetic layer of porous air particles bouncing here and there which affected my energetic attunement. I still feel the tingle and the whispers echoing from library´s bookshelves and corners. It seemd as if the library changed its colour and speed of air particles for a bit.

 

29.5. ECO

– Karin Serafin

Karin Serafin has been a performer of Cena 11. The piece was aesthetically minimalist in design, bodily techniques based in the history of ballet, modern and followed by contemporary dance. Piece had three sections. One in silence, where Serafin moved in space geometrically, sensing the space in various ways as she explained in a program note. She went back and forth in comfortable grey clothes, like on a line. After this she did similar spatial pattern getting more intense and filling this entire second part naked. The air thickened some amount but stayed wuite casual even though this drastic change in costume had occurred. 

Third part she changed space inside the black box we were seated and performed an intricate experimental sound part with a keyboard and voicing something that reminded me of an experimental lullaby. I am not sure if she was wearing some sort of weird mask that I now recall as her having an octopus mask in her head, or this is my imagination that I have completed after. There was a disco ball that would reflect a thousand glimmering lights and shadows. She would wear diamonds. There was something peculiar in her voice. She was speaking words that I didn´t really pay attention to because I got stuck by this uncanny voicing. It was piercing yet melodic and travelling through minor keys creating vocal moors that are of slightly disturbing shape, dangerous yet soft. I could not locate myself which sluggishly tickled my stomach.  There is an interesting effect that time does to a memory of this performance. The octupus in my mind is getting bigger and bigger, and probably reaching far bigger dimensions than it was intended to. On top of this, I cannot be sure, there was an octopus in the first place. But my mind sees it very clearly. This makes me wonder, how our perceptions of performances change with time. If I would write about same performances right after, after three months, and after a year, what gets highlighted, what gets lost? Do I change opinion because I constitute in my life with many simultaneous things all the time that mold me. Memory is a peculiar thing, not entity, but thing.?

 

What remained with me from these performances, was strong vocal scapes. They were in minor key, out of tune or off balanced in another way, but this way that reminded me of a monstrous human nature. Human as wanting to be something but not succeeding, telling stories with cracks and imperfection, or entering a vocal register so peculiar I don’t know where to locate it. It reminded me of many situations in this country. I am perhaps used to slight wind sound in the trees, or snow damping out all extra sound, it will not echo. I remember Brazil as rumbling voicing and echoing in my ears. As one aspect of it in all its colours. 

 

-Karoliina Loimaala