Since Maria Kong dance company was founded in 2008 some of the performers have changed, but the concept remains. This ‘dancer’s company’ work from the roots up. Much of the movement is created by the dancers themselves and there is a strong collaboration between the dance and other art forms.
Miki Avni designs their distinct costumes and they have a resident lighting designer, sound designer, technical manager, and composer. In ‘Open Source’ the collaboration with the sound artists was the most apparent.
Custom Fit Sound
The first thing I noted during the performance was that the sound was something special; although it was highly abstract and challenging to follow it was also pleasant to listen to. Within minutes the score jumped from jazzy to abstract to a Latin sound and it all made sense by the way it was put together. The connection between the musical score and the movement was not always straightforward, but at times became very clear.
An eerie vibe with a touch of comical and sexual undertones presided from the word go. I kept thinking that it was like the dance version of a David Lynch film… totally off the wall and beautifully executed. The dancers were exquisite. Especially as they seem to indulge in their preferred movement style. There were some very strong duets, notably between Anderson Braz and Caroline Boussard.
Hour of Uncertainty
This work must be seen holistically, because there were many elements to consider apart from dancers moving in space. One performer, Ori Ben- Shabat, is not a dancer at all, but a visual and sound artist, yet he was present on stage most of the time. He is also a good mover, so his role in the piece was confusing. Everyone was waiting for his great solo moment that never came. He acted as a mystical character that manipulates the dancers and the space with articulate hand movements. These movements made churning, mechanical noises, which I only later realized were generated live by Ori’s hands.
One audience member summed up their impression of the piece nicely, “the dancers invited us into a dream that they had”. Dreams can feel very real, even though they sometimes make no sense. My experience towards the end was that I was not sure what I had seen, but I was intrigued. Sustained randomness can easily feel like disconnectedness. Audience members treaded the fine line between the two and each decided which definition they preferred. For once I stayed behind and heard the audience’s mixed reactions. There was everything from praise and jubilation to pure disappointment.
Keep it Rolling
Maria Kong is doing amazing and brave things. Their work shows great creative freedom united with great skill. Their collaborations help move their work forwards in a field that can feel stagnant. The intention that is the source of the work is brilliant. The work itself has room to mature within the collaborative framework. Most importantly it raises questions and art that raises questions is the best kind. So, was there enough substance beyond the fascination with the sound technology? What is substance? Do we need a narrative, a message, or an emotional theme to feel that a performance has substance? Or can substance simply be a bunch of creative people experimenting across disciplines? I leave these questions open to each audience member to answer.
Open Source will be performed at the Media Tech in Holon on the 18th of October and again at Suzanne Dellal on the 5th of November.