Last evening of the block of performances for Mats Ek's goodbye «From Black to Blue».
There were three performances in total. If the 1st one, «She was Black» from 1994, is intellectual and a little dark, full of complex structures of composition, changes of rhythm recurrent in Mats Ek's art, also adding that according to the title of the evening «From Black to Blue», we probably could be at the start of a journey, is it possible also that this «Blue» towards which the movement is directed, could be a pessimistic direction for art overall?
«Solo for 2» 1996. An abstract wall with a door, an opening, and some stairs. There are two main colours on stage: brown and blue, and their different shades. The light transfuses between them, making them appear as different sides of the same plane.
A loose and ample brown costume for the young man (Oscar Solomondson) and a blue dress for the girl (Dorothee Delaby). The action takes place between the light and plane. The young woman touches the railing of the stairs with her finger, lingering during her transition from horizontal to vertical, continuing the flatness of the wall with her palm. The duet between the two protagonists- also often a construction of an invisible geometric space, where hands and legs represent planes, and where the angles of these planes are constantly shifting. But physiological gestures suddenly insert themselves within these abstract dance variations, resembling rhythmic sexual movements or smelling of one's partner. Or perhaps our heroine will suddenly fall nose 1st on the hero's buttocks. The protagonists completely swap clothes, and roles too, trying on each other's movements. Exploring the space, hanging onto the wall a little, climbing up the staircase with their head upside down, or even jumping behind a wall, into the unknown.
Unexpectedly, the backdrop now slides away, baring brickwork, an electric counter and cables at the back of the stage. Workers are taking the wall apart, and we can see the hidden bit with a big white cross in the middle of it, a pile of wood and a stump are brought in. This is how without an interval, the action transitions to the next piece: «Axe».
Following an Albinioni adagio, a stooped elderly man is cutting wood: he takes a log, puts it on the stump, a large sweep of the axe and the log breaks in two. In his physiognomy, in the way he holds his body, in his slightly bear-like clothes, everything transpires a certain tiredness, a fatality, the submissiveness of this work, at the same time as its dignity.
His movements and presence on stage resemble a miniature come to life, one of those with illustrations of seasonal peasants working from the breviary of the duke of Berinsky.
After a minute, an old woman appears, her white hair braided, wearing a roughly-cut black skirt and a jacket of a bland brown-green shade. The woman crosses the stage at one or another angle, while she characteristically sweeps her hands through the air widely, as her spine, not too flexible, bends down heavily. The old man does not pay any attention to her, submerged in his monotone work.
The woman takes the stump, pressing it against her chest, like a baby, makes a circle, and lays down herself, like a log on a stump, as if offering herself to the axe. Finally, moving backwards with tiny steps, she bumps her back onto the man's, arresting with her body, his work.
The next duet between the elderly couple definitely transforms the play into a parable, into a metaphor for life: their rigid and cautious plasticity reminds us every now and then of dry wood, like the image of an elderly person «doomed to be axed», and finally to be burnt. But how much wisdom in this dance, simplicity, certainly an acceptance of the order of things.
The fact these two shows played without interval gave the audience the possibility to view them as one in respect of the other and maybe, as a portrait of the choreographer in time. Indeed the title of the evening evokes the theme of a journey, of a destination.
All four dancers took a bow, just as Mats Ek himself, throwing his bouquet into the audience.