Kudelka's Slow Movement (with its subtle flaws) Moved MeThursday, May 25, 2017
|Kudelka's Study for Dance in the Future, May 22 2015, Arts Umbrella Dance Company|
Tonight, my granddaughter Lauren Stewart, 14 and I attended the first night of the Arts Umbrella Dance Company’s Season Finale (three more performances on May 26 and 27) at the Playhouse. The theme was Be Moved.
Each day has a different program so my opinion herein is all about tonight’s.
I have been a fan of dance in Vancouver since 1991. I am not a critic. I am an amateur who appreciates fine dance. What we saw tonight was just that but with a bit more.
It seems that with dance there is always something to learn. Tonight I learned a few things that I was just not aware of.
In 2015 my favourite dance performed by the Arts Umbrella Dance Company, which cleared the benches as there were at least 50 dancers on stage, was James Kudelka’s Study for Dance in the Future. This spectacular production featured no music accompaniment. I was able to hear all the shuffling on stage and, this, became music to my ears. I know from the composer in question that Kudelka had originally commissioned music for the piece. In the end Kudelka went for silence.
Dance in silence is never quite in silence. From my almost always first row seat (and that did apply tonight) I can listen to the dancers gasping for air. I know that they are not swans and what they do is not only difficult but strenuous.
Tonight I learned that slow dancing in unison with many other dancers is tough. The dance that taught me this was James Kudelka’s Slow Movement. It began with lovely silence and after what seemed like a long time the music was the Kronos Quartet.
At first as I was watching a few of my fave dancers I noticed that they would lose their balance. This was subtle. I had to look twice.And yes they were losing their balance
When I mentioned to a local avant-garde composer, at the end of the evening, that this was my favourite work the composer said, “That cannot be. It is an elegant piece (we concurred there!) but it shows the flaws of the dancers. It is flawed.”
It was at that moment that I knew that Kudelka had taught me something. Slow dancing, in which momentum plays a smaller role, is a difficult thing. We know from Isaac Newton that a body at rest will tend to rest and that a body in motion will keep moving unless resistance or an exterior force acts upon it.
Thus I can assert with a big smile on my face that Slow Movement is a work in which the flaws of the dancers are its reason for existence. Perfection, particularly in dance, can be boring. Boring it was not!
Some years ago in one of Evelyn Hart's last performances in Vancouver Max Wyman and I compared notes. We agreed that those moments of slow movement and in some cases pauses with no movement of all were the most beautiful. Perhaps in dance, like in music, silence between notes, fills in stuff in our head. No dancer except Evelyn Hart could have possibly gotten away with it.