Tue 15 May 2018
Most things in our lives find a natural rhythm. Whether that’s catching up with friends or even buying new shoes, we find a pace that suits us and, as creatures of habit, we stick to it. Nature too finds rhythms – the rocking of a swing, the flowering of trees, or the pattern of rain showers in May. The frequencies of all these events are barely noticed by us as we go about our lives. We tend only to notice when a rhythm changes: if we’re used to seeing a buddy every few months and then hang out with them for a week, we certainly pick up on it. If any friends are reading this, take heart: I love you all.
In (b)reaching stillness, we witness a stark change of rhythm. The ordinarily graceful, fluid moves of a dancer are slowed to breaking point – to a rhythm beyond our comprehension, allowing us to glimpse at its construction. Somewhat lost in thought during the languid movements of the dancers, the regular fluidity of dance lost its coherence for me. It was broken into a stream of discrete actions, with otherwise everyday actions broken into tiny pieces. The genius of this performance was those pieces were more than the sum of their parts.
Focusing on each chunk, I was mesmerised by the ordinary mechanisms of movement. The performance allowed generous periods of time for me to mull on how the three dancers played with deconstructed dance. I found myself wondering could they go much slower. Their breath and physiology would surely limit that, I thought. But they tried, and in doing so approached stillness. Had they moved faster, the discrete nature of their movements would have been lost and with that my thoughts of the nature of movement. Theirs was a Goldilocks pace.
Nothing in nature is entirely still. Like infinity, stillness is an abstraction that can be approached but not arrived at. Even the darkest, coldest, corner of Outer Space wriggles with vibrations from the Big Bang. But just as for our dancers, a frozen, still, universe would have less to say. It is in (b)reaching stillness that we can truly and richly ponder the constituent parts of (extra)ordinariness.
Words: Shane Bergin, Physicist, UCD School of Education
(b)reaching stillness showed at Project Arts Centre on 11 and 12 May.