Being in the cinema and watching the three films that’re part of the program of Everybody’s Cinema felt like going on a rollercoaster of uncomfortable emotions; the first made the room so silent no one wanted to move so they wouldn’t make any noise, the second felt like a history lesson from high school and the third one was so slow and monotone it was hard to not zone out at time.
Just from reading a bit about all three of the works it’s possible to get a feeling of a theme that could connect all three of them; the body and its exhaustion. Boris Charmatz’s Levée is described as a downward spiral of emotions, where words like fatigue and repetition are used to describe the feeling of the dance. The next one, The Dancing Plague by Diego Agullón and Jorge R. Abánades, says it shows dance and its close affinity with the uncontrollable forces of chaos. And finally, Blind Spotting by Margrét S. shows an exhausted and vulnerable body in our “achievement-oriented society”.
This entire performance could be boiled down to a metaphor of our modern and westernized way of living; especially how people behave and live in big cities. That the daily stress of life in the end suffocates us, and leaves us exhausted, soulless and without any sort of motivation. This is especially noticeable in the last film, where all the performers don’t look like they have any aim in their movements. They are sloppy, tired, move with closed eyes – or don’t move at all, and they have this vacant stare that looks like isn’t seeing anything close to them.
So, as I’ve boiled down this performance to this kind of message, the question remains of “why this?”. Why would they put together three films, depicting something of the human body, and show them now – at this time and age? Maybe if this had been shown some decades earlier there would be other associations regarding this performance. Maybe all this frantic energy, and “The Dancing Plague” would be thought of humans in war, or conflicts, and the end performance could depict exactly what people didn’t want to become – machine looking things with no particular aim or motive. Maybe some’ll think of this even today, but as a girl used to the city life; this was what my mind went to first.
The first film had this very distinct feature of having a chaotic atmosphere but without the use of any sound. Was that a choice made as to not influence us with any “emotional” music so we’d only see the continuous spiral of frantic movements, or to make us hyper aware of our own bodies in a dead silent cinema? After having watched all of them it also made me associate this with how, when in an incredibly stressful situation, human beings can shut out their surroundings just to concentrate on a simple task.
What made the second film different was how they’d brought up a recurrent happening during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that stopped abruptly around the 17th century, so what does it have to do with our society today? Could it be to show the drug use? Or that we’re so unstabilized in our minds that a little bit of dancing – of doing something different – an entire community can come crashing into the ground?
Although these two films made me make these associations, it’s not until the third one that the meanings I’ve found for them really start making sense to me. The exploration of the exhausted and vulnerable human body seems like the end result of the two others. If we’ve had chaos and frantic humans, what could the end result be if there wouldn’t be any intervention? It’d probably look like something like the performers in the last piece.
After finding these associations – then what? What do we get out of this information they provide us? Is this a warning of how we may end up, is this a statement of how we are now, or is it an experiment to challenge us into changing our ways? It’s very hard to say, as the films are very flat in their “storyline”, and don’t give us any kind of explanation. The first ends abruptly, the second ends with a bird flying away and the third with the opening of eyes of a performer that’s had them closed the entire time. Of course, it’s possible to take the bird flying away as humans finally coming back to their more “animalistic” side, which has been the trigger for chaos. The opening of the performers eyes could represent them finally becoming aware of their surroundings and therefore making a change in the slow and monotone setting they’d been stuck in.
I, for my part, can understand why this theme is brought up. On one hand you have this stress and frantic energy that these films depict: cities expanding, a high rate of unemployment in a lot of countries and stress and depression have become much more normal occurrence. Then you have the phenomenon of meditation, yoga and alternative lifestyles being brought up. All these things are very present in the modern western society, living parallel to each other. So maybe it’s actually something we need to reflect on, although I think the people that really need to reflect on their stressful and hectic city lifestyle will unfortunately not take the time to watch some dance films.
-Rita Maria Farias Munoz