Wondering today what contemporary dance is, is both titanic and fascinating. There are no more codes to respect, rules to follow, music to be preferred, texts to be subjected to duty. If anything, trends and subsidiaries emerge, that is, reworked traces of previous choreutical experiences, digested and rejected in a sea magnum of possibilities in continuous change. Those who prefer to research, and therefore the scope of complexity, have a more difficult life than those who opt for their opposite, following the cultural flow declined by a dangerously inclined Zeitgeist at low cost by a "passive" spectator. Without wanting to erect any barriers of judgment, inappropriate in an era in which all art seems to live not only in design difficulties but also - especially for the emerging artists - economic, we are certain that Elie Tass' Emergency Entry declares its complexity at first glance. This pièce born in a circular space, almost an arena, is now recreated in the pharaonic and pop habitat of Rem Koolhaas with an enchanting charm and in it tries to interpenetrate without losing its autonomy.
It is a challenge accepted willingly by Elie Tass (Ghent, 1981), Belgian-Lebanese choreographer, still unknown in Italy if not as a dancer of his mentor, Alain Platel, the founder of The Ballets C de la B (Les Ballets Contemporains de la Belgique, with some ironic reference, but not too much, to the Ballets Russes of the last century). An active choreographer since the beginning of the Nineties, by now well-known and courted in the world for his magnificent direction-choreographies, each of which usually never totals less than 400 international performances, Platel is also able to stir up the creativity of his followers, in anything but epigonic. If we really want to recognize a contact with his spectacular heritage, Emergency Entry has only one moment - the fibrillation of the fifteen bodies in a state of ecstasy and almost of madness - which reminds of vesprs (title, contraction by text message, from the Vespers of the Blessed Virgin of Claudio Monteverdi), pièce from 2006, in which Platel explored psychic disturbance, the devotion pervaded by hysteria and certain African possession rites for a conversation with the sacred Monteverdi disguised by jazz and gypsy music. This brief "reference to" naturally fits into Emergency Entry: a choreographic construction and deconstruction that nothing, or almost nothing, has to do with the sacred, or with ritual possession.
The concreteness of the fifteen bodies that move or stand still in the Deposit of the Prada Foundation does not cloak itself of any purpose other than to make a journey - "a pilgrimage," says Tass - in which the all-round physical presence of the young interpreters, their knowing how to meet and dissociate and their emitting energies that from the outer substratum of their skin buried in their interiority counts, but it would also like to reach the senses and sensibilities of those who observe them. Here only humanity is at stake: those inextricable chains, tortuous and full of ravenous tension, those almost sculptural positions where one or two performers are uncomfortably superimposed, and someone rises above the companions, offering personal interpretations. Like the vocalize in unison that sees them also lined up on one side to the other of the vast and colorful habitat, an unexpected moment in which the body-body of all that was already on stage with naturalness from the beginning -, now also turns on the strings vowels. It is a chorus of voices without words: modulated, poetic; it dominates and is much more extended in time than the music, instead of recorded in segments and iridescent, like a radio that is listened to absent-mindedly indoors and outdoors. For example, the finale offers the roar of Formula One engines.
Where are we?
Already by its title which contradicts the more usual "emergency exit", Emergency Entry implies the necessary, almost absolute, entry into what we have already mentioned simply as "humanity". Every place, internal or external, ideally contributes to welcoming its acts of movement, often without respite, but also sweets and quiet. The blue-blue mantle that the choreographer himself brings to the stage, by hiding a dancer, suggests an almost religious pause and those timid, cautious caresses, which everyone exchanges light, dissolve any burning, even if this does not really cease. Quips, vibrations of the belly (here’s the quote from vsprs), moments of free, anarchic madness or intemperate imagination - also the result of the contribution given by the performer-dancers to the creation itself - they deliver us to the final cheek to cheek, in the fiery red light, of two female dancers. This is perhaps the symbolic and full of pietas summary of a humanity that has exposed its flesh and its senses as best as it could by following the input of a non-casual "pilgrimage" set up by Elie Tass as an emotional ups and downs in which also the moments of stasis-tiredness and silence-empty yet resonant have weight.
With its original freshness and its new language Emergency Entry can also trigger an aesthetic sensation, but not in the direction of an "intelligible" beauty, even if we would be tempted to evoke the Platonic "achrómatos" (the path of beauty and truth ) - right here among the thousand bright colors of Rem Koolhaas - for the bare and rough beauty of the pièce. Even in this site-specific format, Emergency Entry would like to act directly within the sensitive. The senses - the sight, the hearing, the touch, the taste - of those who express themselves and of those who accept their expression, do not refer to universal meanings, to ideas that are the same for every observer. We are not even projected into another world, but we remain well anchored to our own: it is difficult to close one's eyes to the fascination and dramatic ambiguity of the phenomena following one after the another.
Event program Elie Tass’s Emergency Entry (29 November 2019) with graduates and students of the Dancer Course of the "Paolo Grassi" Civic Theater School at the Deposit of the Prada Foundation and for courtesy of the same.