Sunday, October 7, 2012

Christine Borch / The body that comes

All of us have a body. Some of us are more aware of it, some less. Some are more conscious about the external factors influencing their bodily presence, some less. Some rebel, some fight – with, against, or inside their body, some do not. We could reason about which attitude is more profitable and rewarding, but to no avail – in the end we are all shackled by the same physical and socio-cultural pitfalls. None of us can deny the importance of our relationship to our bodies. We all have a body that comes. Or one that goes.

Or both, as Christine Borch’s The Body That Comes suggests: in this contemporary performance, the dancer experiments with her limits while wearing a heavy-looking, long, thick cord wrapped around her neck, hiding her face, making her breathe in a desperate and demanding way. Her movements, her posture, her airless lungs mirror how much exposed she is to the force of gravity: she is dragging her feet along the floor, hardly for a minute can she keep the vertical distance from the theatrical chasm of the floor, she can only walk slowly due to this weight, this chain of oppression. She places her body weight on her hips, making this dance of helplessness somehow feminine, sensual, inviting (which tiny aspect could be extended into its own socio-cultural study).
But what is this cord wound up around the performer’s neck? For the very simple fact that I am into literature and tend to consider myself a writer at times, I usually interpret dance pieces according to the contextuality, the hidden meanings, the metaphors they convey for me. Thereby, my associations might not have much to do with the artist’s original intentions, with what the dancer was displaying in her dance. Should my shamelessly diverging conclusion be of disgracing value to the very existence of contemporary dance – I’m sorry. My body (and mind) simply come in another way. They must be going backwards.
So the questions, the possible meanings I thought of regarding the issue of this cord-cage are the following: does it represent illusions? Self-perfeption? Misperceptions? Bodily misfunctions? Errors? Baggage? The body itself? Another body? The gap between two bodies, may they belong to the same owner or different ones?
After the performer gets rid of this extra weight, this all-consuming jewellery, she is trying to adjust to the new circumstances; like a newborn who has just left the security of the mother womb, she breathes harder, she stumbles, she strives to stand up. This dance of inconvertibility lets the audience see the beauty of body mechanism: the desperately working muscles, the dancing skin, the sweat shining from the inner fight (why the author is so attracted to this aspect of dance might be a subject of a completely different kind of piece of writing).
Despite the struggle to adapt to the new circumstances, the honesty of pulling herself up by her hair to show her face, the newly won freedom from the cord-cage, the dancer puts this extra piece of cloth back on her, as if this dragging force had grown onto her existence, as if she felt too naked without it. Can she not function without this? Is she a prisoner of pleasure-pain principle? Has she got used to this suffering to such an extent that she does not know how to live without it?

But my own Freudian mental twinge made me misread reality.
Of course I may have completely misinterpreted the ending. The most likely scenario is that the dancer herself indeed has two bodies, and the piece shows the transition between those two. The new one is stronger, it reacts to the heavy snake-cord in a different way. It is less destructible, less vulnerable, subjected to its environment to a lesser extent. It can’t be pushed down by outside forces, by mere objects of misconceptions. It is completely in control.

You can also read this critique of mine on the blog of L1dancefest: 

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