The newest age seen through a kaleidoscope: welcome to Eleanor Bauer’s ‘Triangle piece’

‘I could tell you about the concept behind every single scene of this choreography, but what I really want to know is: what did yoú make of it?’ Eleanor Bauer, addressing her audience at an ‘after talk’, at Kaaitheater (Brussels). Candidly she was putting forward that big question that must be bugging every choreographer (every artist?). Will the audience perceive my work in the way I’ve intended it to be perceived? Will they get everything I’ve put into it? In Bauer’s case: A dance for the newest age (the triangle piece) is filled with references to ideas she’s taken from new age, philosophy and architecture.

‘A while ago I promised myself two things: I would make a performance-based piece and then a strictly dance-based one.’ There’s your answer, for those of you who were wondering why Bauer’s latest piece is that different from her previous, well-received Big girls do big things (short review here). Bauer, born in Sante Fe, moved to Brussels in 2004, studied at P.A.R.T.S. (research cycle) and toured as part of the cast of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s The Song. She will join Boris Charmatz for a new creation to premiere at Festival d’Avignon (July 7-12).

For her Triangle piece she puts the members of the audience along the sides of an equilateral triangle. Behind a mixing desk is musician Chris Peck, who is mixing live-sounds (from himself and the dancers) with prerecorded material throughout the performance. During the first part of the piece the six dancers make all sorts of patterns and combinations. To me it often felt as if I was looking through a kaleidoscope: a slow and beautiful flow of ever-changing forms and combinations.

Not just some patterns, but choreographic translations of ideas and concepts that had influenced Bauer while making this piece: the trammel of Archimedes, Buckminster Fuller (known for his geodesic domes) and Bruno Latour. At several moments you notice that it’s really no coincidence that Bauer has opted for three shorter and three taller dancers on stage.

For Bauer it was really important that the piece contained references to past, present and future. But while I was looking at it, it surprised me to see a young choreographer coming up with a piece that made me think more of the giants of the past, than of the great choreographers of today. But this didn’t keep me from looking at all these slowly evolving patterns with interest.

For Bauer, in the end, it doesn’t matter if a viewer gets all the references. She just hopes that her choreography proves to be a captivating one that triggers your brain cells in one way or the other. Unfortunately I have to admit that I lost interest during the last part of this Triangle piece. In that part the tone shifts, the formations break up and the dancers start developing more individual patterns. They start making strange noises too. Frankly, I didn’t really know what to make of it, and many of the other members of the audience didn’t either, as some started laughing, wondering if this was to be taken seriously or not.

For a short clip with rehearsal footage and an interview with Bauer, click here. For more info on ‘A dance for the newest age’ click here.

 

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