The solitary shame.. ten years later
A modern choreography performed again ten years after its first run is a rare thing indeed. Hence it was a special experience to see Ingunn Bjørnsgård's "The solitary shame announced by a piano" from 1997 staged again by Riksteateret in Nydalen, Oslo, Norway.
At first, one can't help thinking that this is a possibility to feel how oneself has changed and developed - what distinguishes the master graduate with 10 years of dance education and -training from the fresh, 20 year old student watching one of the first modern ballets he ever saw?
The problem with comparing is that the memory is so chaotic and easily influenced.. To be honest my strongest memory from the 1997 performance probably was "the piece was quite strange". But I do remember the "burping body noises" scene and the small piano. But I had forgotten or ignored both the sense of humor and the references to gender roles and sexuality. Are those details censored away by my failing memory or did I not experience them in the first place?
Today my experience is way more analytic, this is sort of in itself a paradox since what happens onstage is so absurd. We see 7 people toying with different vocabularies of movement. Often they look like they are trying out an identity - constructed through gestures as they encounter the audience and each other. The gestures often refer to classical ballet, in a sort of inter-genre-textual choreography. It doesn't look easy - we see both the frustration and the insecurity behind a mask of movement. This reminds me of Ina Christel Johannesen's universes, but Ingunn Bjørnsgård adds a generous amount of humour: glove puppets, men being corrected like dogs, dancers underneath the floor, one dancer annoying the others until she's literally thrown off-stage.. "The solitary shame.." obviously wants to take you to a place which is both fun and slightly painful. In particular the deodorant sequnence depicts the insecure "do I smell?" feeling in a way that both hurts and is funny.
Even 10 years later and with a more analytical eye, many things remain in the "strange choreography" box and sort of don't fall into place. But maybe that's how it needs to be..
From my point of view, an eternal frustration with the futility of gests and movements went like a red thread through the piece, and it actually made me ask myself why I'm dancing. Gests and movements that are developed to be consciously presented are so superficial compared to minds and feelings - and in dance you never avoid the "present oneself through presenting movement" effect. Oh well, the impressions will as usual be transformed over time by new impressions and old thoughts - so it's probably not too late to draw some inspiration even from this dance.