Posted by Scott McEachern
In the chat on Thursday, September 14, 2006, with The Nature Theater of Oklahoma, the most compelling thing that Pavel the director said was that he had conceived of the dance as an anti-narrative, and to that end he decided to use dice to determine the form of the dance. The dice, for him, introduced a level of chance that took him away from received notions of theater and dance—he decided upon the form of the production rather than the narrative. Once the form had been determined through the roll of the dice (and the rolls decided everything: from the number of scenes to the number of actors in each scene, to the number of movements each actor performed), the troupe went about constructing the dance within that chance-derived structure. It highlights the role of luck in our lives, how seemingly connected events are actually circumstantially related, and spotlights the drama inherent in the movements of our everyday existence—what Pavel called the “spectacle of the everyday.”
In the production of Ballet Brut, the audience sits in very close quarters and when the production begins, a curtain is drawn about six feet away from the people in the front row. So everybody is very close and then the actors come out, one by one, in front of the curtain. We can hear their breathing, we can see their every detail. And this, for me, resonated with something that came up in their chat: that is, the production is an examination of the spectacle of the everyday. The production was built on small gestures: a hand behind the head, a smirk, a sway of the hips, a flutter of the hands. While there wasn’t a traditional narrative, the gestures built up tension, the glances between actors helped create a sense of expectation for an end, which comes in spectacular fashion. So it is a spectacle, I realized, when the stage is filled with local dancers who mimic the pattern of dance-gestures that the actors have developed over the course of the dance. A disco ball descends, a ballerina pirouettes in the seats opposite and behind the stage dancers who move with frantic grace and energy. It is a climax without much of a message, and that is quite all right, and much of the point.