Maud le Pladec ‘Twenty-seven perspectives’ | review

Words by Maria Elena Ricci.

Maud le Pladec’s Twenty-seven perspectives, presented the 1st and 2nd of October in Rome’s Auditorium Parco della Musica, is certainly not definable in a few, concise words. With dance works of this kind, dance writers often become suspicious of the power of the written word, which can represent univocal meanings, categorisations which leave little to no space for imagination and free interpretation, of which art is the medium itself.

The French choreographer has defined her work as both formal and abstract. It is certain that there is a clear relation between Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony No.8, from which le Pladec generates the choreographic composition, and the dancers’ defined and literal movement language. Nevertheless, the almost imperceptible, yet constant rhythmical variations suggest ambivalence, dissonance which is audible musically and visible choreographically. Still, this “chaos” is accompanied by moments of solidarity, signs of peace, playful and competitive gazes. These elements coexist together all in the same space, as if this was a unique and intact musical piece. Instead, as the title of the work suggests, there are not one but twenty-seven perspectives or variations of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony No.8 by the musician Pete Harden, with whom le Pladec collaborates translating music into movement.

When the dancers enter the stage in sporty clothing they stop with decision, projecting solemn gazes. The solemnity, supported by the classical music in the background, is immediately contrasted by the athletic and competitive aesthetics of the dancers, who act as friendly game opponents. Schubert’s music lifts their presence beyond us to the point of making them appear as unattainable, out of reach, only to suddenly break the established tension with instinctual, geometrical movements which we recognise in repetitive sequences moving the “players” everywhere around the space. Unexpectedly, exquisite unisons surface, satisfying, although only momentarily, the audience’s need for harmony. Then, the tired dancers enter and leave the curtain-less stage, taking off and leaving jackets and pants on the sides, as if this was a real competition in a real field. The dynamism of the pausing and resuming of the game, a virtuosic and tridimensional dance, leave us hanging until we are left with nothing. A suffused light is projected on the empty, quiet space… we begin to breathe again.

This moment is completely different from what we have seen until now: we move from classicism to minimalism. We are gifted with the time to immerse our senses in a contemplative and abstract prospective. The cosmic void triggers our imagination and we begin to wonder about the limits of the spatial-temporal confines, beyond the physical space in which we are currently present. For a moment, I considered why people go to watch shows. I believe we crave the desire to feel something powerfully different, something that looks nothing like the world of crisis we experience daily.

Our wondering minds are resettled when, from the parterre, we see dancers raising with bowed heads, as if they are called to finish their unfinished game. After all, to complete an action, like finishing Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, means nothing else than restarting it. Paradoxically, one must act in order to finish something. In the same way, the dancers resume their effort of bringing this work to an end: they climb up and down the stage, sitting on the sidelines to then go back in the field, over and over again. Audience members begin to predict, almost crave an ending, yet the constant resuming of the dancers’ game expresses a sense of continuity which goes beyond the performance apparatus. While the show does come to an end, the work, then unfinished, stays unfinished: the dancers have initiated a mechanism of new and infinite beginnings which knows no limits. While darkness swiftly pervades the space, we have the sensation nothing is really ending. Spinning on their axis with arms stretched at 90 degrees, gaze inwards, bodies generate infinite and circular trajectories which make us want to reach them, to be with them in that visible state of constant infinity where there are no endings, but only beginnings.