Land of silence

Sounds from beneath by Mikhail Karikis

“Behind external events the dancer perceives another, entirely different, world. There is an energy behind all occurrences and material things for which it is almost impossible to find a name. A hidden, forgotten landscape lies there, the land of silence, the realm of the soul, and in the centre of this land stands the swinging temple… in which all sorrows and joys, all sufferings and joys, all struggles and deliverances meet and move together.” (Laban, 1935, p.89)

At the time Laban wrote these words in A life for dance, his school was situated in a dance-farm, in which the students would practice together indoors and outdoors, but also share a collective life, perform all cultivating activities, working towards a concrete goal, over seasons. Most of these activities because of their task-focused aspect would be performed without the necessity of verbal language. For Laban this was a condition to put the experience of movement before representation in order to reach its spiritual content. The word “abiding” used by Paramananda in The body expresses the attitude that supports inhabiting this place of silence, stillness and mono-tasking with full involvement (2007, p. 105).

Among today’s choreographers, some artists such as Siobhan Davies or Rosemary Butcher have made an artistic statement of inhabiting this land of silence through stripping down their material to the essence, considering and knowing the space around them to let choreography emerge, rather than creating every aspect of the performance. The choreographer Yoann Bourgeois has developed a bare language between circus, theatre and contemporary dance that builds pieces for and in a space. In Cavale, originally made for Grenoble’s belvedere (a French city in the Alps circled by mountains), he questions the human desire for accessing ideals through the metaphor of the flight, using a built-in trampoline hidden in the set, repetition and constant variations of relationships between the two male performers, and gives the viewer time to be moved by their eternal suspension and fall while reflecting on their own.[1]


[1] Translation of the text spoken in French in the video: “In a poem, Pasolini said –I don’t have the exact quote- that he only has this left: “a desperate vitality”. The desperate vitality is the hatred for death. What on earth separates the retiring from arrogances and the hated death? Well I would say it is this difficult distance, incredibly strong and almost unthinkable, that I call neutrality. It is actually a protest, this protest embodied in the fact of saying: ‘I don’t care much about knowing whether God exists or not, but what I know, and will know till the end, is that he shouldn’t have created love and death at the same time.’ And neutrality for me is this irreducible ‘no’. “ (silence) “In my book Air and dreams, I studied at length the dream of flight. It is a very positive dream, and very simple. In our happy nights, we sometimes happen to have the feeling we can fly. Most often, the dream of flight has no wings or mechanism, therefore is a flight that doesn’t need to imitate birds, i.e. to copy reality. We have become so aerial; the air element has impregnated our self so deeply that a light beat of the heels is enough to detach us from earth. We then start to glide, most often close to the ground. If we touch the earth another beat of the heel gets us back up again for an easy ride. Curiously, some dreamers while waking up are surprised not to be able to fly anymore.”

Next: go to Conclusion

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