Berlin-based choreographer Meg Stuart brings her contemporary dance piece Violet to Chennai
American choreographer Meg Stuart’s works, in her words, revolve around the idea of an uncertain body, one that is vulnerable and self-reflexive. With unconventional contexts and by exploring various territories of dance, the Berlin-based artiste (who founded her company Damaged Goods in 1994) has created over 30 productions, ranging from solos to large-scale choreographies. As a part of the month-long series of cultural events being held at Goethe-Institut, the award-winning artiste is bringing her production to Chennai for the first time.
Poetry in motion
Titled Violet, the contemporary dance piece (first created in 2010) features five dancers — Roger Sala Reyner (Spain), Kotomi Nishiwaki (Japan), Marcio Kerber Canabarro (Brazil), Renan Martins de Oliveira (Brazil) and Mor Demer (Israel).
Having toured across France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Italy, among other countries, Violet promises an immersive experience that illustrates a journey with five individuals that subtly interact and transform. “Violet is one of Meg Stuart’s most abstract pieces till now. She wanted to go for something beyond human interaction. Since there’s no story per se, it all comes down to the physicality — the way we use and carry our bodies onstage together with the live music,” says 37-year-old Roger, one of the performers in the 75-minute-long piece.“The narrative may appear in the way we interact, in the patterns of movement that each dancer proposes and the way it intertwines with each other. Each of us is contributing to something that is bigger than what we do individually. But you could think of us as different materials or substances, beyond human, as different stone minerals, for example, each with different vibrations. The main thing though is how these substances change throughout the piece,” he adds.
Created by Berlin-based sound artiste and musician Brendan Dougherty, music is a very important element in the production. “Sometimes, it feels as if we are making the music with our moves. It helps materialising the intensity of the choreography and activates it too, it works as a cohesive element. As for the costume, it is very basic so that doesn’t distract from the main thing — movement. The set-design is also very minimalist with just a white floor and a black metallic wall behind us that makes possible a playful interaction with the reflection of light,” shares Roger.
Art of perfection
According to Roger, working with Meg is a lot about intuition and improvisation. Talking further about their preparation to perfect the piece, Roger says, “The work was about immersing oneself blindfolded into a world of unexpected consequences. In the process, we did many different things besides gravitating around dancing the whole time. We watched movies, we did shamanistic rituals, we slept over in the studio and went for walks in the middle of the night, we touched upon alchemic symbols, studying them, reinterpreting them with our bodies and we improvised a lot together. And in those improvisations, we had a chance to translate all of these activities into a body form, movement, interaction, expression. Meg picked different materials that came out from the improvs, encouraging us to dig deeper into things that appeared, making us repeat sequences, or single movement patterns, sculpting each of our bodies.”
Sharing some of the feedback the team received in the past, Roger adds, “Some people called it iconic and pure, the piece where Meg portrays her most elementary artistry, whereas, some others find the intensity hard to chew. I wouldn’t say it is easy, but if you allow yourself to go with it and pass the resistance, it might provoke, you might find yourself going on a trip with us.” When asked about their expectations as they bring the piece to the Indian audience, he says, “We are open to show the work as it is. We really have no clue of how it will be perceived or what kind of audience is going to watch us. We want to remain open and we are very curious of the reactions. I hope people can connect to it.” Violet is currently on a performance tour across India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Entry free. February 15, 7 pm at Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall.
— Fathima Ashraf