Words by Francesca Matthys.
Attila Andrási is sensationally present with us throughout Rainbow, a new work that merges the essence of the clown with dance.
This work in progress that was created in residence at Lake Studio, Berlin and performed last week at Chisenhale Dance Space, distills the quality of pedestrian gestures to inform the process of nuanced and sincere movement vocabulary.
We are introduced to the clown through a ‘screamers’ style of music that encapsulates the mystic and playfulness of clown nature. Alongside this, the slow presence of the clown is illuminated. This moment is significant as it establishes a sense of openness from both performer and audience, silently agreeing that we will hold space for the presence of the clown and performer to exist. It is interesting that we immediately view Andrási as taking on a clown persona throughout this work. I wonder whether if no context is given to the work that we would still assume the nature of the clown.
Andrási overtly clocks the audience continuously, a clowning technique that allows the audience to empathize with their experiences. Without this, the clown would not exist in relation to us. The use of this tool paralleled with dance offers a moving experience where we are continuously sensing into both the visceral and emotional or psychological journeying of the performer.
At one point Andrási clocks us and begins to unveil multiple coloured wool hats that are explored with the body in different ways. There is subtle power in the way that Andrási touches each object, breathing life to them one at a time. This game of covering and uncovering the head highlights the vulnerability of the head in humans from birth and throughout life.
The use of objects in Rainbow is so sensitive and intentional, causing me to ponder on how bodies may merge with objects and perform as part of them rather than with them, even in their absence. Something that Andrási begins to do.
Rainbow displays intriguing explorations around shifts of weight in the body informed by both clowning and dance. The diverse use of objects also leaves residues of weight on the body. I wonder at times why we feel sad for the clown even when they look joyful. Perhaps what Andrási offers is that ‘the clown’ holds up a mirror to us as they carry the weight of our insecurities and limitations.
As the image of Andrási’s sculptural body in collaboration with the watering cans lingers in my mind, I wonder what the clown leaves behind on stage and with us. How can we in return hold that weight for even just a moment?
Dance is a practice that within Western society has historically been very elitist and exclusive and it is a fascinating choice to see the clown, who may represent the ‘outcasts’ of society, engaging in a contemporary dance practice in ways that are empowering and beautifully vulnerable.
In this work, Andrási skillfully crafts pedestrian gestures that, informed by the essence of the clown, unravel into a dance language that sustains our attention. Whether it be changing clothes, removing a backpack or picking up a watering can, we watch their evident consciousness of each action take place. When a moment of exhilarated club dancing arrives, the performer sophistically abstracts their own groove that is contagious.
As a new work, Rainbow holds sensitive moments of attention and play that allow us to feel our hearts beating in our bodies. The task-based performance is clever and comes together well with the music that is layered with dreamy, subtle emotional undertones and stylised punctuations.
In the post-performance discussion the performers mention that a large part of the work is structured improvisation, a clear influence of the element of vulnerable play that the essence of a clown brings. Andrási also mentions that the process brought a new way of articulating their body, which is so clear in the use of new movement language that is honest and captivating. As the work is still in progress, I do look forward to its further development in story or arc to create a fully connected work.
Created & performed: Attila Andrasi
Dramaturgy: Miranda Laurance
Live music: AudiophiliacUK (Bobby)
Clown mentor: Jon Davison
Lighting: Michael Picknett
Filming: Asher Studio
Images: Maria Kousi
Creative residency: Lake Studio Berlin Supported by: Arts Council England