Correspondence from Milka Djordjevich: PARTS – Vincent Dunoyer, “Sister”

by Milka Djordjevich

I was recommended to see Sister at the Kaaitheater, choreographed by Vincent Dunoyer, particularly because he will teach a workshop that I will take at PARTS. I went to see the performance on Saturday, November 17th – my first day in Brussels. The Kaaitheater is a beautiful art deco building, with a large yet intimate space (maybe a third or half the size larger than Dance Theater Workshop). As you enter the space there is a small projection, in the lower right hand corner of the upstage wall, of photos of a female dancer in various poses.

In the first half of the piece, Dunoyer performs a series of phrases, each connecting to the other. Some actions are large, gestural, or simply small actions in the face. At times his breath is very audible and specific to the movement – this reminds me of how the dancers in Rosas often perform.

Eventually Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (ATDK) comes on to perform, what seems like the same solo, wearing a dress with chunky high heels (I think she likes high heels. I’ve seen some of her works where the dancers wear high heels. Unless it was Dunoyer’s choice, which I highly doubt). ATDK’s dancing is clear – her presence dynamic and changes with different phrase material. At certain points ATDK seems to forget the material and asks Dunoyer for help (who sits off to the side of the stage watching). He gestures what comes next or gets up and shows ATDK. I wonder how real or staged her forgetting is.

The entire work is interspersed with blackouts, whiteouts, quick bursts of music, and video clips projected upstage. This first video clip of the piece is of a man repeating a phrase over and over on a small stage. He stops the phrase again and again because it seems like he is forgetting it or is trying to perfect it. The clip that ends the piece is of John Jasperse at Eden’s Expressway (or maybe it was Cathy Weiss’s studio) teaching and performing a phrase. He eventually waves goodbye to the camera and then Dunoyer gets up and waves goodbye to the audience.

I could not read the program because I happened to grab a Flemish program, but after the performance I found a brochure, which describes the piece:

“For Sister [Dunoyer] asked Fumiyo Ikeda to recall and show poses and movements from past Rosas productions, which the photographer Mirjam Devriendt then captured. He then asked about thirty Rosas dancers (and ex-dancers) to take two photos each and link them by means of a new choreographic phrase. In Sister Dunoyer then thread them all together to make a new choreographic piece which he himself dances first, and then Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. This puts her at both the beginning and the end of this ‘dance chain.’”

When Dunoyer puts these phrases together they become a new entity, to the point were I could not tell that the material came from various people. He streamlines the movement, making it very smooth and gracefully executed. Not having read the program notes before, I did not know how the work was made. I’m not sure if it mattered. In some way the process seems more interesting than the work itself – It lead to create a cyclical work, where the original source material came from ATDK, then expanded upon by her dancers and then brought back to ATDK to perform. Is it some sort of ode to ATDK? Or something else?

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