Dance in Sketch: 10000 GESTURES (Boris Charmatz)

At the Crossing the Line Festival in New York Boris Charmatz explored the forms of spatial relationships between the audience and the performance space in 10000 Gestures.

10000 gesturesThe principle of 10000 Gestures was to perform collectively but distinctively, and to abstain from repetition of any single movement. An idea that became tangible after his dance at the MoMA. Dance for the museum questioned the dance for art, for education, and for the enjoyment of the movement. Boris flipped the design of a formal structure by starting with one gesture, and collecting more gestures that conveyed a living art form. The performance in the museum in 2013 at the Moma gave him this idea that the opposite of dancers moving into a composition would be a new collective experience of movement. It expressed a freedom of movement throughout the theater for performers and the audience in their seats.

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Boris performed at the FringeArts Theater for the Philadelphia Fringe Festival 2018 with a piece called manger. The chaos of dancing with food takes on an uncomfortable situation that I think resonates with what I witnessed at Skirball Center for Performing Arts in New York. The stage for manger asked audiences to question our taste for looking and eating in public. It translated inconsistencies with consumption for dietary needs and over-eating. That is, etiquette projected by society through history, and the reality of letting loose and devouring our prey in the wild is not that different. There is an acknowledgement of bastardized human intimacy taken in normal standards as indecent. Eating is a way of survival and a structure around the table, family, and the public to eliminate chaos in nature. 10000 Gestures looks to the choices that allude to dance in its many forms. The screaming gesture directed the audience to find the source of this ruckus. Stepping backwards to the back of the stage was another gesture,and in this abstract mess there always seemed to be two or more gestures happening at once across the stage.

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Without music gestural research entailed a new stance in the experience that showed their presence and awareness of multiples in the group. The whole movement began to push the existence of feeling around the stage. The dancers took a place in expressing a sign that regressed from a formal ballet or operetta and it left us with a modern personality of unidentifiable people, or aliens. Directing your eyes where ever they might go we zoomed in on a specific part of the dance. The stage was there but the dancers made a constant motion that evoked the placement of where these gestures came from.

10000 gestures2The intention of the dancers was imaginative, and went in all directions. A scene of dancers crowded on top of one another, and exposed the visible layers that went into collecting so many gestures. The stage bared all kinds of styles in costume, designs by Jean-Paul Lespagnard, and the mechanism rushed through generic tropes. There was only certain dancers that stood out at one time. That was partly because the dance was in constant motion. Running, walking, and falling as well as screaming were enough to question the choreographer’s order in chaos. Other questions about the investigation of gesture broke popular beliefs about forgetfulness. This emphasized the galore of the building, physical and ephemeral, and teased our own gestures by where we chose to look.

[NYU Skirball Center, New York] September 27-28,

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