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Monday, 20th December 2010

BARCELONA IN AUTUMN

Barcelona, Spain
29-31 October, 2010
Abi Sebaly

While Laurie and other members of the DDF crew traveled to different corners of the world, I was given the opportunity to visit Barcelona to view The Room, an evening-length work by choreographer Thomas Noone.  My trip was graciously supported by both DDF and the Institut Ramon Llull.  The performance was held at the Teatro Mercat de les Flors, a theatre that is part of an impressive arts complex in the leafy Sants-Montjuïc neighbhorhood of the city.  The set design for The Room resembled a cell, or a raw holding space.  The floor was covered wall to wall with gray foam squares, which absorbed the dancers’ sock-footed steps.  This padding enabled the dancers to hurl themselves around with great abandon, yet it was as if someone had uncannily hit the mute button on the sounds of their bodies. Noone worked with a talented cast of dancers, and the piece was very engaging to watch.

Aside from seeing the performance, I did a fast paced museum blitz,  including the Fundació Joan Miro, where Swiss artist Pipilotti Risti had a temporary exhibition, Friendly Game-Electronic Feelings.  The exhibition allowed visitors to meander through different rooms and lay on floor cushions to observe ceiling and wall video projections (floor cushions seemed to be a recurring theme this trip!).  I also did a quick spin through Museu d’art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and took the train out to the Salvador Dalí Museum in Figueres.

Aside from the performance, some of my favorite moments were spent in quieter parts of the city, walking in the Jardins de Laribal and in the surrounding hills.  I watched little kids playing among olives that had just fallen from olive trees (wow, they really grow on trees and not in jars!) and passed through rows of lemon and orange trees.  After hiking around on some of the trails of the Tibidabo Mountain, I got an impressive view of the city, and the shining Mediterranean beyond.

Although the city is hard to cover in such a brief time, I am grateful to DDF and Thomas Noone for giving me an introduction.

Author: ellie | Add your Comment »

Tuesday, 14th December 2010

ICE HOT IN STOCKHOLM

ICE HOT: Nordic Dance Platform
Stockholm, Sweden
December 1-4, 2010
DDF Travellers: Abigail Sebaly and Tiina Ylonen

DDF was recently out in double force at the Nordic Dance  Platform, Ice Hot, a joint initiative coordinated by dance entities from Sweden, Finland, and Norway.  Both Tiina Ylonen and I (Abigail Sebaly) layered up for the bite of the Swedish winter and headed to Stockholm for 4 full days of performances and events.  When our plane arrived and we stepped on to Ryanair’s red carpet (aka the tarmac), the air was sharp and clean, and the snow underfoot was so cold that it squeaked.  Here I felt the environment snapping its fingers, imparting an alertness that would be carried over into the buzz of the platform’s events.

The platform kicked off at Dansens Hus, with a 3-hour performance curated by Charlotte Engelkes.  Engelkes invited a combination of over 40 notable dance, sound, and visual artists to realize a piece that morphed from pure movement to spoken word to people manipulating amplified Sleeping Beauty-style spinning wheels, and a thousand other tableaus.  It was a rare experience to see artists like Tom Caley (a former Merce Cunningham dancer, now co-founder of Scentrifug with Petter Jacobsson), Julie Atlas Muz (New York-based performance artist), and members of Sasha Waltz & Guests, among many others, all sharing the same stage!  It was miracle enough that everyone could coordinate their schedules, let alone create a performance together.

Shifting venues, on Stockholm’s island of Skeppsholmen, we climbed up a snowy path to the Moderna Dansteatern, where Finnish choreographer Sanna Myllylahti presented Closer to Heaven, a piece for 5 strong women who continually ran toward, and retreated from, the audience members in the theatre’s expansive space.

Back in the center of town, at the Stockholm Stadsteater, Oded Graf and Yossi Berg’s Animal Lost wove a dialogue of wry idiosyncratic statements like, “I am a Danish dentist. I earn a lot of money and I make a lot of mistakes” alongside inventive, gestural movements.  Humour and darkness were inextricable from each other as the dancers slipped animal masks on and off.  In Reich + Szyber’s Unknown Pleasures, one dancer offered a hilarious, scrupulously detailed narration of several Michael Jackson videos, complete with the moonwalk, that iconic diamond glove, slouch socks and loafers, and high pitched “Ow!” In Philippe Blanchard’s How About You?, a pair of strikingly similar brothers performed an intriguing piece which reflected two close bodies operating in separate but parallel worlds.

Each time we exited the theatre, we were plunged back into Stockholm’s pre-Christmas frenzy.  Christmas markets were in full swing all over the city (selling mulled wine, Swedish gingersnaps called pepparkakor, all manner of candies, hot waffles, Santas made with sheep’s wool beards, straw reindeer, etc).  Even though the sun set at an improbably early 3pm, many windows and entrances were lit with small lights and candles.

The Ice Hot platform was very well organized and it was exciting to see that the Nordic dance scene, even in the depths of winter, is far from in hibernation.   Sweden, I will be back!

Author: ellie | Add your Comment »