So happy (dancing) together: Cynthia Loemij & Mark Lorimer create ‘To intimate’

Festivals all over. December Dance (Bruges), curated by Akram Khan, is starting shortly. Next (Kortrijk) has just kicked off and the Biennale by Charleroi Danses is in full swing. Both those Belgian festivals are presenting To intimate, a collaboration by two dancers you might have seen on stage in one of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker‘s pieces: Cynthia Loemij and Mark Lorimer. As both of them are talented and experienced dancers, I was curious to see what they would come up with, for their first piece together, created in collaboration with cellist Thomas Luks.

Gifted dancers trying to be choreographers themselves? I’ve seen quite a few of them fail horribly. But with Cynthia Loemij and Mark Lorimer I was rather confident that everything would turn out right. Loemij has been performing with Rosas for 20 years, and she duetted with De Keersmaeker in that wonderful Small hands. Visual art fans might have seen her in Manon de Boer‘s film Dissonant (review here). Lorimer was one of the founding members of ZOO/Thomas Hauert and he has worked with Rosas for several creations and reprises. Together they danced Prélude à la mer (2009) in the film of the same title by Thierry De Mey.

And sometimes you only need 30 seconds to know that you had no reason to worry. The wooden panels (by Herman Sorgeloos) on stage – and later on those three simple chairs – creating just enough of a setting and a mood. Those costumes by Anne-Catherine Kunz: spot on. And then the way Cynthia Loemij and cellist Thomas Luks walk on stage: she, able to avoid him by making just that little swirl. It’s all in the details.

For Loemij & Lorimer To intimate is about translation, interpretation and ambiguity, and of course about intimacy. It’s about two people on stage (the dancers) and about two different languages (music & dance). As the programme rightly states: ‘It is literally out of this co-existence that a conversation is born: no pas de deux to music, but a transfer, an exchange of various ‘materials’ between equal but different partners. This results alternately in consonance or dissonance, in a smooth discourse or juddering phrases, in overtures or aloofness, in tension or relaxation, in chaos or order.’ I couldn’t have said it any better.

To intimate consists of a cleverly conceived ‘chain’ of short scenes. Sometimes Loemij & Lorimer dance to the music, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they dance in unison, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes Thomas Luks is ‘just’ the musician on stage, providing a soundtrack to dance to, sometimes he is much more than that, as he really becomes a third ‘actor’ on stage. (The music he plays? From 11 capriccios by Joseph Marie Clément dall’Abacco and from 9 serenades by Hans Werner Henze.)

As with all debuts, you feel that Loemij & Lorimer are still trying to find their own ‘voice’, that they are trying to develop something that is ‘theirs’. And not all of the scenes they’ve come up with for To intimate are equally strong (I’m not sure if the moments during which they talk were really necessary, for instance). But I applaud them for the fact that they’ve not desperately tried to come up with something radically different or new; for the fact that they have wisely opted to build this piece on two of their strong points: their gift for dancing, and their eye for detail. To intimate, full of charming little moments, is a joy to watch. If it would be a record, I’d put it on again, immediately.

More info here.

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