The herra skella patsu patsu’s have landed: “dbddbb” by Daniel Linehan/Hiatus


A haka. But an updated contemporary version of that Maori war cry. That’s what it made me think of. But Daniel Linehan‘s new piece dbddbb was in fact inspired by dadaïst sound poems. It combines nonsensical words and sentences with marching rhythms. Sounds weird? Don’t be afraid. The Belgium-based American choreographer ends up with a piece that is both experimental and enjoyable.

Coro coro coro coro. Herra skella herra skella. Patsu patsu patsu patsu. Don’t even think of trying to understand what they’re saying. It’s all nonsensical. Throughout the whole piece. Five talking dancers marching to a pulse. The same, continuous pulse. Following one marching order: one step always leads to the next. All of them making the same gestures, or making different gestures. Under a great looking structure consisting of lots of fine, long tubes. Now and then one of the dancers makes a couple of them swing, lightly. It was designed by Belgian duo 88888, based on the idea of a multiplied pendulum. (They designed the set for Bára Sigfúsdóttir‘s wonderful piece The Lover as well.)


Costumes (by Frédéric Denis) and make-up (yes, make-up) reflect the idea of a group of people who’ve ended up here from the future. Hence their strange, futuristic language. Their dancing? Some sort of post-traumatic rituals they perform when the body is all they’re left with. Moving at a digital speed. But that’s just one way to “read” this piece, Linehan explained at a post performance talk at Kaaitheater (Brussels).


Shouting, puffing, hissing, reciting… Unrelenting the five dancers keep on going at it. Steadily. dbddbb as a piece is made up of a series of short fragments. Sometimes you wish that a choreographic phrase would be repeated. But on the other hand: each time your mind starts drifting off, Linehan captures your attention with something new.


And that’s what makes dbddbb a step forward for this choreographer. In previous pieces his experimental mindset would sometimes get in the way. This time around he succeeds in integrating his slightly intellectual, formal approach in a playful piece. In dbddbb he nicely fuses dance, costumes, set-design and lighting (warm pinkish purple tones). Funny how, in a way, it reminded me (the group dynamics; individual versus collective) of two other recent choreographies for a group by Belgian choreographers: Lisbeth Gruwez’s AH-HA and Jan Martens’ The Dog Days Are Over. But: great piece of work.

You’ll find a short Vimeo-clip here. More on the set design on Urdesign web mag, here. And a recent interview with Linehan here.


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