Chatting with the naked dancers makes you see 'Low Pieces' differently.
I timed my trip to Festival d'Avignon in the south of
The Frenchman with a doctorate in molecular biology performed his "Self Unfinished" in the Alliance Française de Bangkok auditorium in 2009, and my young students still refer to it as "the chicken dance".
That solo presentation was part of a three-city Southeast Asian tour, and
"I try to create different kinds of community with the performers onstage and to reflect a kind of community we form with the audience," Le Roy told me in
"The situations and movements we create attempt to represent those of humans, but by visiting things where we appear more like animals, plants, rocks or machines. We're also using movements that aren't called 'dance' movements."
Presented in a school gymnasium, "Low Pieces" involved nine dancers who, at the outset, in street clothing, invited questions from the audience. They were asked, among other things, why they were dressed that way and what the title meant.
We're getting used to chatting with performers after shows these days, but this was before we'd seen anything. Interestingly, what was discussed had no bearing on the show—only on the viewers' perception of it.
The lights went out, and when they came up again all the performers were naked, mostly lying on the floor with a few limbs in motion.
A few sequences ensued that lasted about an hour and then the lights went out again, and we were asked to throw out some more questions—in total darkness.
People began to voice various opinions on the presentation, sometimes contradictory, and then, just as abruptly, the lights came on and—for the first time—we saw all the dancers standing up straight.
They were dressed again, and earned a big round of applause.
Just as animals and plants coexist, audience and performers share a space for a certain length of time. They recognise and communicate with one another in their own way.
Many genres of art need to be decoded before they can be understood and appreciated. Contemporary dance—given its highly experimental nature—usually inspires us to think and deliberately leaves enough space for individual interpretation.
This is something we need to see more of in this part of the world.
"Low Pieces" was further proof that Festival d'Avignon is no longer the text-based theatre event it's been for more than six decades. It demonstrated once again that dance and theatre need not be strictly separated.
Le Roy continues to tour Europe and
He says it will be "a confrontation of these conventions of theatre and visual arts and their totally different relationships with the spectators".
Keep an eye on www.XavierLeRoy.com.
The French Embassy paid for the writer's trip to
written by Pawit Mahasarinand
published in THE NATION on Thursday 11th August, 2011
photos courtesy of Festival d'Avignon
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