‹Ayer por la noche fue muy diferente› says a lady in the audience who later turns to be the director of this place, after the applause abated. I ask my English speaking seating neighbour to make sure my skills of translation proof to be accurate, and for sure, the piece has been very different yesterday evening. Firstly, I am surprised, because yesterday, I thought to have seen a completely staged piece. But there indeed had been moments when I haven‘t been sure if the composition was set or developed while performing. The title asking how to make a performance has not only been most clearly present in the thematic elements but also in the impromptu atmosphere. Still, the order of scenes have been so complex that I did expect it to follow those former decisions in the subsequent staging. That making a performance is like or can be handled like a setting of rules was evident, but it was surprising that the two performers did not only perform these enactment tools but used them in an improvisational manner at the same time.
It is that what foremost formed my perception: a performance about performance tools. Having done several workshops about choreography myself I recognised different strategies that one usually thinks about when performing. So it seems– almost – all the elements and tools that you need in a ‹good› performance have been present. But really? I will come back to this point of judgment.
Tools of a performative choreography are not those of a theatre play, not of a dancy dance piece. A performance is, among other things: just half storytelling, but foremost with a bodily approach in order to create… well, to create what or in order to do what? Mainly, not to symbolise, not to express psychology, not to play a figure, but to create a certain state of being, to choreograph a particular space and pace that shakes the rhythms and axes of everyday perception. Many theories are being put forward to grasp this kind of in-between state of performance art that is neither theatre play nor dry acting out of concepts. But seeing the TWINS EXPERIMENT reminded me forecefully of what I find so exciting about this format: To see, witness, observe more and more closely what bodies are doing, i.e. observe what cannot be put into words. The movements are neither dance, nor purely everyday gestures, they are familiar and yet not immediately decipherable, but they are also neither mysterious nor ironic, though often funny. They are imbued with a light, sweatily engaged humour.
The performance contains scenes or chapters that seem to build on each other, following pre-set rules. In the beginning both young woman come in from the audience entrance, running down the same steps from behind as the audience did before. After that they position on the side walls next to two big carton boxes and some pre-ordered materials, facing each other and changing clothes as if preparing for rehearsal. Already here it is perceptible that they made quite some effort beforehand, having practised mirrored and simultaneous movement as, though they do not do the same acts, they do them together. They act out the movements in a similar way, yet in differences that are brought to the fore in telling details. They are almost twins, close and differing. Just as their videos list depicts: http://www.tea-tron.com/teatron/Videoplaylista.do?id=87&idio=es#video1
Throughout the subsequent parts I find myself amusingly setting checkmarks in my mind: While changing clothes they get naked in an unexciting way. Check. They move, breathe, sing together in a clear yet not exactly similar way. Check. They run in circles. Check. They eat while taking their time for every bite. Check. They breath audibly because of exhausting exercise. Check. They look at the audience recognising who is there. Check. They leave the stage to go outside to the terrace and bring in a stone as a ‹real-life› object. Check. They use club dance and pop music. Check. They move using different physical techniques, not afraid to exhaust themselves, but also not showing off virtuosity. Check. They use language. Check. They show faults and repeating try-outs. Check. They bring in eroticism using objects. Check. And many more…
Unused tools are left, of course, just as unused material remains on stage. When the loudspeakers emit a shrill alarm caused by a Smartphone, the performance ends. And hearing the words of the theatre director, I begin to understand that tonight I have seen some tools the twin performers have rehearsed before and that they have chosen according to some kind of rules that belong to an unkown game, that I do not understand, but witness in its outcome, in its delightful, cheeky and bodily atmosphere.
What this does to me? In causing a humorous clever alertness, it has a similar effect on me as Jonathan Burrow‘s choreographic handbook which as well deals with the making of a performance through choreography. So here I‘m coming back to the need for judgement. Judgement not only on the seen piece, but judgement that has to be present in the sense of choice-making throughout the whole process of making a performance – for both, performers and spectators.
Burrows: ‹Let us begin with the idea that you know how to dance. Training is only sometimes a bonus.› (S.1)
But judgment is not only meant here in the sense of daring to decide: it is also judgement in the sense of its contrary, the non-judgement that is to open up new ways of dealing with oneself, the performance partners, the space, the way we work.
Burrows: ‹The time of a body dancing freely is a multiple time, cut loose from pulse, able to shift constantly between different speeds and pacing. This is one choice. It is worth reflecting, though, that a dance which goes all speeds can‘t change speed. The dance which goes all speeds is all unpredictable, which then becomes predictable and we lose interest. This can happen despite quite wonderful movement.› (S.125)
This moment of non-judgement can be supported by a bodily as well as by a game-based approach to the making of art: moving in not-set modi, as well as compounding in not-set ways. It shows the difference between decisions and judging valuations, as the latter always needs a kind of category and recognised form one needs to refer to. Bodies ruled by games make obvious that the notion of judgement is always one step behind, just a bit but always late.
Instead, there are paths ‹working› and some ‹not working›, an argument that one often hears in choreographers feedback sessions. There are moments reducing air and getting narrow and some flooding the alignments between the elements with wide space. Then it matters what kind of effect and which affects the performers want to create.
Burrows: ‹How do I release my grip on the desire to do, enough that I can do?› (S.103)
What the two performers have decided for is the less the training of dancing virtuously than training the being of twins. This choice for a topic is not randomly made as it contains all a choreographer can think about: indifference and difference of rhythm; creating identity and relation in space and time; mimesis and abstraction; the way of working; living; moving; breathing (together). And which tools do they need? In a (again game-like) interview http://www.tea-tron.com/anticteatre/blog/2016/02/13/mar-medina-sobre-twins-experiment/
‹El cuerpo. A mi Twin, a mi otro cuerpo. El cuerpo, sí, porque si no tengo cuerpo no puedo acceder a otro cuerpo. Necesito también una kettle con una luz azul, dos micrófonos, una playlist bastante variada, dos pares de zapatillas, unas bragas, dos petos, dos cajas, rotuladores, sudaderas Adidas, Rihanna… “Qué más materiales?” Se pregunta. Y Laura toma el relevo, saltándose las reglas, y añade: “una linterna de muchos colores, libros, waffles, calcetines de rayas, una tela de colores con purpurina, pintauñas de purpurina, los tatuajes, los brillitos, a Perec, a Agamben”. Y Ainhoa sigue “sí, y agua, un proyector, capsulas de té, Céline Dion, las tazas de camping, unas luces de bici. Y luego todos los objetos que están pero que no salen. Que están ahí sólo porque tienen que estar, no sabemos por qué, pero no hay manera de desprenderse de ellos”.›
Throughout their training, performance and documentation they make obvious that it is not necessary to hide the tools in order to create effects. The explanation ‹el compartir es entonces un generador de herramientas.› (Sharing is thus a generator of tools.) depicts a process between them but could also define the relationship to the audience or the state that is been put up as a relation to it. https://comosehaceunaperformance.wordpress.com/objetos/
Burrows: ‹Do these two dancers share the same time, or do they hold to their own time? What are the benefits of sharing time, and what are the benefits of ignoring each other‘s time? What is the time of the audience? No relation at all is just another kind of relation. This is also a choice.› (S.123)
And what language do they need to do what they do?
‹No es broma. Necesitaría el lenguaje telepático. Digamos que tengo el lenguaje verbal y el no verbal, pero me doy cuenta de que para hacer lo que hago necesito inventarme un lenguaje nuevo, que ahora ya existe y es el de las Twins, que tiene mucho que ver con pasar tiempo juntas.›
Instead of evaluating judgment, the bodily exploration of twin-like states is where the performance arrives. To use Burrows words one last time:
Burrows: ‹Choreography is a negotiation with the patterns your body is thinking.›
This is performative choreography to me.