Departures and Arrivals

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FOCUS ARTISTS - Texts

Neanderthal Hipsters, Renaissance Dances and Twitter Age
Rita Natálio

 

 

 

Andros Zins-Browne is an American dancer and choreographer based in Belgium and supported as one of DNA’s Focus Artists since October 2014. His new work, “The middle ages” is a co-production of our partners Vooruit, MDT, HAU and Pact Zollverein and will have its premiere on March 12th and 13th in Ghent (Impossible futures festival, Vooruit)

After doing three pieces in a row that needed a truck to transport the scenography, Andros Zins-Browne has given himself the challenge to make a piece where this isn’t the case. After all, “clothing is at least a set that we can pack in a suitcase”, he comments with a smile while his cat joins our Skype conversation. This doesn’t mean that the relationship with visual arts is diminished in this project - historically lavish costumes complement the physical work and present us a time travel through movements and history. As the synopsis of the work claims: “The Middle Ages is a performance for five dancers about a time which is inherently 'middle' - ambiguous, fluid, either both-and or neither-nor. Through an (over-the-top) use of costumes and a rigorous investment in movement, the performance attempts to occupy an ambiguous place and time, where historical references overlap and fold over one another”.


Neanderthal Hipsters, Renaissance Dances and Twitter Age
(after a Skype conversation with Andros Zins-Browne)

“The middle ages” is in the middle of a travel back and forth in time and a negotiation with linearity, the pillar of a certain comprehension of history and time. Working with what is now and what is the future of now becomes a choreographic pursuit of history, as dancers “chase” after the dances and movements of the past and present us with different kinds of temporality, trying on different historical pasts like clothing.
Talking to Andros about the performance, we understand that his work is firstly an attempt to understand and create a dance for the future while diving in fleeting styles of the past, pop and pastiche. The “Macarena” and other popular dances from the Nineties and the early 2000’s where we see an explosion of pop expressions, but also Renaissance dances and modernist styles overlap and are combined in order to present the spectator a platform of the present made of these hyper-connected fragments. The choreographer comments: “I think of us now as being in a period where we are looking for a period to be in, a moment in history looking for a history to be in”, considering thus this self-consciousness of the present as a key-word to understand the present we’re in.
While Andros tries to ask himself the question “when is now?” and “what can the future be?”, the natural process of working in the studio with his dancers was to create fragments of dances as Tweets or advertisements, or even movement products (thinking of the dancer as a consumer and producer of these movement products). Andros proposed to his performers to create a database of movement products that work like Tweets, units that can present a certain clarity in their identity and at the same time a certain contradiction.
This connection with tweeting enables a dialogue with our contemporary world overpopulated by very short fragments of information that convey a direct meaning and simplicity by the way they are rapidly produced, posted and consumed online. A self-consciousness of the present as a Twitter Age unveils perhaps a certain opposition between modernism as a complexifying force and fleeting pop expressions of today, expressions which are rather fragmented and yet hold people together for very short periods of time. Yet, we have to put first our feet on this fertile ground of choreographic research and reflection as Browne proposes in “The Middle Ages”.
If the Twitter Age of the Now is free and regenerative, presenting endless possibilities and combinations, it is also the soil to create a vision of our present where we have the chance to plant our bodies’ past experiences in different ways. Today, “expressions have to be short, to have a specific identity, to hold something recognizable and yet contradictory about them in order to grab our attention and therefore enter themselves (briefly) into the memory of history”, says Andros. However, fragments, shortcuts and decontextualized figures of expression, can maybe be overpassed by new perspectives of time, affect and relationship between events, as "The middle ages" proposes to us. Can’t wait to see the premiere!


Rita Natálio

 

A talk between Andros Zins-Browne and Frederik le Roy