O U T O F C O N T E X T - F O R P I N A
In Out Of Context, director Alain Platel continues his search for a language of movement connected to the unconscious, the arbitrary, the uncontrolled. The movement material covers the entire range of dyskinesia and dystonia, in other words: spasms, convulsions, tics. These can be very small mouth movements, teeth chattering, sticking out the tongue, eyes blinking, frowning, grimacing, moving the fingers as though they are playing the piano, briefly jerking the limbs, torso, pelvis or head, jolting the abdomen or diaphragm, balance impairment, falling over and a whole repertoire of silly walks. Small tics swiftly alternate with big swings. Restlessly and nervously. Platel has long resisted the label ‘choreographer’, but still arrives at this term in another way. ‘Chorea’ is a medical term referring to an affected nervous system, the symptoms of which are jerky movements and poor coordination.
Platel uses virtuoso dancers for this. He isn’t so much interested in the unconscious as such, as he is in the tension between the wide range of uncontrolled movements and the traditional building blocks of choreography, such as the synchronised (simultaneous) execution of movements. In that ‘entre-deux’, the area of tension between the unconscious and the superconscious, a space opens up that is not just interesting to the director, but also and particularly to the dancers he has been working with for quite some time now.
It seems as though, as years go by, Platel increasingly permeates the essence of humanity. In the past, he used an eclectic cast to highlight social and cultural differences in a mix of high and low culture (both Bach and Prince). He went through these outer layers to then get under the skin. This happened in vsprs (2006) and consistently continued in pitié!(2008), both in cooperation with composer Fabrizio Cassol (and equally in Nine Finger (2007) with Benjamin Verdonck and Fumiyo Ikeda). Even his earlier work already carried the seeds of this approach. For example, the movement material in La Tristeza Complice (1995) was based on Tourette syndrome, a complex of verbal and physical tics.
Ultimately, Platel goes back to his past as a special needs educator working with children with motor and multiple disabilities at Medisch Pedagogisch Instituut in Landegem. It was there that he discovered the beauty of the malformed, the emotional power of the misshapen.
Even though it is possible to draw lines of continuity in the language of movement, the title Out of Contextalso evokes the expectation of something ‘different’. What is different? The title Out of Contextwas initially chosen because it isn’t based on a previously determined piece of music, as was the case with vsprs, which was based on Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespro de la Beata Vergine, or pitié!, which was an adaptation of Bach’s Matthew Passion.
The music for Out of Context has become the driftwood of a few centuries, washed ashore as the remains of human civilisation. The human voice is at the centre in an attempt of (re)construction and communication. The microphone is its extension. Every now and then, we only get as far as a murmur, a hum, a roar.
In vsprs, an equivalent to religious ecstasy was found in physical ecstasy, culminating in the jerky choreography to the ‘Magnificat’ from the Vespers of Mary. pitié!was about suffering and the (im)possibility to share it with others. The question occupying the Out of Contextteam was whether movement material that is so intrinsically linked to ‘pain’, ‘ailment’ and ‘lack’ can be used for anything else. A documentary on pianist Glenn Gould prompted the team in a more joyous direction.
Out of Contextis situated in a mental space. It gradually became a trip down memory lane. A dive into the caverns of human existence in search of the roots of childhood and prehistory. Of something in between man and animal, a kind of harmony that passes by (or precedes) the duality of beauty and ugliness, good and evil, me and you, individual and community. In search of a condition in which everything becomes liquid. In that sense, Out of Context becomes a kind of ritual, a gathering of people in search of an essence they can’t find, but in the meantime experiencing something unexpected but worthwhile.
Hildegard De Vuyst, Dramaturge