posted by: Ariana Jacob
Often, but in the case of this piece though, the work shows almost only that back story: the thinking, feeling and breathing that an artist puts into their work. For this dance Cedric Andrieux performs himself as a dancer in a work named after him created by choreographer Jerome Bel. (How strange to be performing yourself as conceived and directed by someone else.)
This art work is called a dance but it breaks all the expectations of what Dance performance means, and it breaks them in such satisfyingly plain ways. When this performance so sharply broke my expectations I noticed how strong dance’s conventions still seem compared with most other visual art mediums. Watching this medium implode itself skillfully felt both archaic and amazing. There has to be rules to break to feel any power in breaking them and at times contemporary art feels saggy from lack of structural tension. This work is taut with undoing the structure of dance.
This show won me over both because it emphasized the ideas and aspirations behind making dance; and because it honed in on a place in culture where we can still palpably feel the power of breaking conventions. This is a dance that is mostly a well told dead-pan life story with very little movement in it at all.
At one point in the performance Cedric describes what it was like for him to first watch a Merce Cunningham dance live. (Shortly after seeing that performance he was hired by the company and performed with them for years.) He told how at the beginning of the dance he looked at the dancers and then away at the branches on the trees around the outdoor stage where they were performing, and then after that at other people in the audience. He didn’t feel that by looking around he was missing anything, his whole experience felt included. In his very french version of english he said this show gave him a feeling of freedom that was “super-good.” I’d like to repeat that but this time taking it to be a self-reflective, self aware statement about performance and the experience of freedom: “super-good.”
Often the thinking behind an artwork is more interesting than the work itself.