Day 14: The Forsythe Company
Some people were chirping like a bird, while leaving the theatre, others were bleating like a sheep. As always my shoulders were strangely and almost unconsciously mimicking those Forsythe-moves. It’s a style that is so impressive and so completely ‘his’, that it always makes William Forsythe’s performances worth watching. Even though they are not always that easy to grasp.
Heterotopia (2006) needs space. For this choreography, the main room of the Hallen Van Schaarbeek/Halles De Schaerbeek has been divided into two performance spaces. The smaller one is black and almost empty, the bigger one has more light and is filled with lots of tables. It’s an object William Forsythe uses regularly in his work.
In the black room dancers are moving around in a more traditional way, in the big room they are behaving like children would. Walking across the tables, creeping under them. Rearranging black letters into nonsensical words, making animal noises and jabbering in a non-existent language. The audience is free to wander around. The dancers go from one room to the next, and back.
Heterotopia is inspired by Des espaces autres (Of other spaces), written by the French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984). In his essay Foucault talks about utopias, which have no real place, and heterotopias, which are real places within any given society. ‘Counter-sites’, he calls them. ‘A kind of effectively enacted utopia in which the real sites (…) are simultaneously represented, contested and inverted.’ And for Foucault, the theatre is such a counter-site.
Needless to say that a lot is going on in Heterotopia. And by that I’m not only meaning: the dancers. Forsythe is playing with and investigating things like the possibility of human communication, mirroring and translation, the relationship between sound and movement.
For me, these are always performances that make my heart and my head spin. In a good way. Even though it is not always that clear to me what Forsythe is trying make me think or feel. Upon leaving I overheard people talking about George Orwell’s Animal farm and Anton Chekhov-plays. Forsythe sure got their brain working too. While my head was thinking, my shoulders were moving.
(photo credit: Dominik Mentzos)