“Tightrope” is a solo, a walk, investigating the mechanics of the space between stability and collapse. Performed as a poetic installation partly in silence and partly accompanied by Sofia Gubaidulinas compositions “Dancer on a tightrope”, a piece for piano and violin, this simple walk becomes a contemplation on masses of people trespassing long distances of fear, insecurity, constant eruptions of grounds, societies, economies and cultures. In search for a point of stability the smallest eruption in what initially grounds one can create a fundamental change in the way a life unfolds. The piece is ideally performed with one dancer, a violinist and a pianist. However it can, in smaller contexts, be performed to a recording by the musicians.
LONGER TEXT ABOUT THE WORK:
“Stability refers to the ability of an object to return to its original position after it has been tilted slightly.” Unknown source
Tightrope Starting point. Interested in the underlying essence of a movement and searching for entries into the wasteland of dance the initial starting point to this solo was branching out during a movement research period where I was developing tools and methods for a study in human verticality and balance. The study was restricted to the action of standing and walking , exploring the spectrum between stillness and fall, between the experience of stability and instability. An investigation of the sensory, vestibular and the proprioceptive mechanics that enable the human structure to sustain an erect position for a longer time. A position that is always on the verge of falling, collapsing, giving up its weight to the pull of gravity.
Looking for a way to contain movement research within a form that could be shared with an outside eye, made me want to explore the process of formation. What gives movement its form and how is the form resolved, interrupted into the next one? Where/how do I (whether through will or by intention) intervene? And how can I frame it to make this formation visible?
Sofia Gubaidulina’s music. For some years I have been developing an interest in the work of the Post-Soviet composer Sofia Gubaidulina. Through the readings of some of Gubaidulina’s interviews I eventually started to get to know her musical compositions and read about her own compositional process. One fundamental base in her compositions lies in the concept of “rhythm of form” and her attempt to “ free matter (sound) while adding principal to form”. The last quote brought me to a question: If I think of movement research as matter, what principles do I need to add to its formation?
By chance I came across a piece by Gubaidulina “Dancer on a tightrope “ written in 1993. Gubaidulina herself describes this piece as a metaphor for “life as a risk and art as a flight to another existence”. The piece can be read as the process of elevation, fall and take-off from life (quotidien) to art (another existence). Written in the moment of Gubaidulina’s own immigration from the falling walls of USSR to the stable ground of Germany in 1992 the allusions to balance in Dancer on a Tightrope can be seen as reflections on her own balancing identities both as a Soviet and a Western composer. The continuous negotiation between the struggle for and assimilation with freedom is mirrored in the compositional balance in the work.
“The art of music expands the frontiers of knowledge because it allows us to approach the highest of our being. The art of music is capable of touching and approaching mysteries and laws existing in the cosmos and in the world. In this sense it allows one to have access to a higher dimension of life . The one that is above the ordinary everyday.” Gubaidulina Sofia
The story behind the composition of “Dancer on a tightrope” and Gubaidulinas quote touched me on a personal level and as an artist. Having immigrated from Russia to Sweden, at the age of twelve in1993, my personal development was at first tinted with constant experience of instability between culture and language, customs and traditions. Sweden became my home and an important layer of who I am today. However, as a young student I chose to study in Belgium where I stayed a significant amount of time working within a very international environment. I had a chance to travel around the world to almost all continents and on my journey I acquired two more languages. Artistically i've travelled from the classical tradition of ballet to different genres of dance and performing arts in general, switching between institutional stability to freelance vulnerability. Switching between languages, adjusting to cultural codes, habits and performance genres has become part of my quotidian life. By now I am a four lingual artist working with movement as my main medium. Artistic processes help me to deal with multiculturalism within myself and this “within” helps me to orientate in the numerous paths of the artistic field . Life as a risk and art as a flight to another existence makes me experience life like a dancer on a tightrope indeed.
Questions of construction and deconstruction of identity. However, I am not alone in this reality and the tightrope I am walking on is far more stable than the one of those unfortunate destinies forced to leave their countries, cross seas, stay split from families and traditions in hope to find new beginnings in foreign countries of foreign languages. This solo is my way to contemplate and show sympathy to all courageous people trespassing long distances of pain, fear, insecurity, constant eruptions of grounds, societies, economies and cultures. Eruption in what initially grounds one can create a fundamental change in the way a life unfolds, yet gravity is the only constant that helps us to continue living while negotiating the scale of rise and fall.
The worldwide Corona-outbreak has put us all on an unstable ground and the process of accustoming to new social behavior is in itself a destabilizing experience. However it is also a moment when people who are left without a home to return to become even more invisible. A pandemic brings to surface the underlying humanitarian issues all over the world creating dichotomous responses. It's more than ever important to remind ourselves about the spaces inbetween, the sudden shift away from the stable melody, the micro-tonalities of life which Gubaidulina manages to articulate well in her music.
Live dance, viola and piano music. The solo is to be performed to Gubaidulina's composition played live. I am currently in contact with Serbian violinist Dejana Sekulic who has helped me analyze the music. I have seen Sekulic perform on many occasions and have always been amazed by her strong radiance. Sekulic has performed "Dancer on the tightrope" along with Japanese pianist Nao Momitani. When it is logistically and economically possible the Duo Momitani-Sekulic will be present to play live.
SHORT BIO OF THE PERFORMERS:
Penkova’s work is movement-based combining dance aesthetics, didactics and eastern healing practices. In 2019, she starts working on a series of dance solos “18 steps (through dance history)” and ” Dancer on a tightrope”. Collaboration is important in her work and she is one of the original members and initiators of cross-disciplinary collectives “House of Bertha” and “PhD in one night ”. She is also a co-creator of the “Silent song-practice” together with the Korean artist Sue Yeon Youn. Educated at the Royal Swedish Ballet School and P. A. R. T. S , Penkova’s professional path starts as a dancer at the Gothenburg ballet company. Shortly after she joins the Rosas dance company/ A-T De Keersmaeker in Brussels where she works for the next ten years. Curious about the work of the freelance choreographers Penkova eventually works with Georgia Vardarou/Kunst-Werk (GR/BE), Veli Lehtovaara (FI),Helena Franzén(SE), Human Works (NO/BE) and Michèle Noiret (BE). Since September 2019 she follows an MA in contemporary dance didactics at SKH-Stockholm University of the Arts in Stockholm.
Duo Momitani-Sekulic started their collaboration out of their mutual interest and love for music,
more precisely contemporary classical music. The spectrum of expression, exploration of depth of
music and musical thought with vast possibilities through compositions both conventional and
non-conventional, way of using and understanding violin and piano, as solo and duo, presents a
never-ending challenge. In their collaboration they strive to achieve and overcome musical and
technical challenges and bring out the beauty of music today, rather masterfully crafted into art of
composition and in the service of substantial content that creates aural world of power, sensitivity
and beauty. Their aim is to present music that dazzles with such extremes as luminance and darkness, sensitivity and roughness, noise and silence. They share feelings on stage, among each other and with public but as well off stage, while preparing and creating repertoires, choosing pieces and collaborating with composers.
“Tightrope” (working title) Approx length: 30 min.
Concept and dance: Liza Penkova
Music: Sofia Gubaidulina
Violin: Dejana Gubaidulina
Piano: Nao Momitani
Video trailer : Pauline Fonsny