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Dancing with rage

German choreographer Anna Konjetzky enthralled audiences with a fresh take on the medium of dance

Dancing with rage

A dance programme organised by Annemarie Schimmel Haus was held at the Rafi Peer Cultural Complex, Raiwind Road last week. Called “Lighting”, its choreographer Anna Konjetzky fixed the audience’s gaze on the bodies of the nine dancers on a bare stage that formed a flurrying, pulsating mass. With every move the rhythm seemed to increase.

It seemed that the choreographer, who at the moment is artist-in-residence in Muffathalle Munich, has been inspired by the various protest movements that have been taking place round the world. And what has attracted her most is the rage, passion or anger that comes with such movements of protest. Usually such passion only comes out of something that troubles a person or a group deeply, compelling it to step out of its comfort zone and swing into action outside homes and workplaces to sensitise the powers that be.

The medium of dance is the human body itself and the entire creative endeavour was to capture the effect that rage, passion or anger has on the body. In this era which is generally assumed to be the age of anger and rage, this programme resonated with something extremely contemporary. Inspired by the numerous pictures of protest movements round the globe, the igniting, the torching, the kindling, simply investigated that spark, that moment of collapse or discharge.

Konjetzky’s dance piece got progressively more intense and dense; the mass subtly built up with more and more power, energy and pressure. A diffuse, uncontrollable process was set in motion and then climaxed.
Her performance included the intervention of film and video, opening up new prospects and throwing a different light on the body, showing it outside of the performance context or on close-ups. In terms of content, her work drew on the expressive force and narration provided by physical states. With her performers, she sought the answers which the body gives in altered situations and states.

With insatiable curiosity she explored spatial arrangements, performance areas and the complex interaction of body, space and how they were perceived. Central to her work was her active input of sensory information into a space, to the effect that she abandoned the classical stage area in favour of installation spaces or peep-show formats, offering views from all sides or only through gaps in a wall. The movements that then arose were imperceptibly small – an inner and outer trembling, a flowing, virtuoso up-and-down, standing still or distorting the body. The body and its identity as a store of experiences formed the heartbeat to Konjetzky’s pieces.

She had been uncompromisingly pursuing her path of artistic research for several years. By consistently developing her own medium and her own means of expression, Konjetzky created work which converged with fine art. Dance, video and illustration generated a source of friction between the geometric, anonymous space and the soft and malleable intimacy of the body. A dancer was confined in a mirrored glass box, trying to gauge her situation by moving within the space and doing drawings. The spectator saw into the mirrored cube, where a complex space of perception and experience was unfolded.

The music for the dance pieces was composed by Sergej Maingardt, the light design was by Barbara Westernach and the dancers included Viviana Defazio, Sahra Huby, Michele Meloni, Quindell Orton, Taha Khan, Erum Bashir, Shabana Hassan, Abdul Haris Khan, Aqeel Ahmed and Sabiha Zia.

Since 2005 Anna Konjetzky has been creating dance-pieces and dance-installations, where the questioning and organisation of the space has always been very central. Her work had been shown at Spielart, Dance, Tanzwerkstatt Munich, Unidram Potsdam, Tanztage Regensburg, Festival Danse Balsa Marni Bruxelles, in Ramallah, Kampala, Nairobi, Hanoi, Istanbul, Gent, Salzburg and other places. Her dance-installation, `Abdrücke` was invited in 2012 to the Tanzplattform Germany. She has studied physical theatre at “Lassaad” (Methode J. Lecoq) in Brussels, as well as contemporary dance and bodyweather in Brussels and Berlin. From 2005 to 2008 she worked as the assistant of the choreographer Wanda Golonka at Schauspiel Frankfurt. She has received several prizes and scholarships from Munich and Berlin.

There have been many protests movements of late in the West like those caused by the immigrant crises, the rise of the far right, and then in reaction the assertion of the left,  the election of Donald Trump and the treatment of women in all spheres of life. Konjetzky subscribes to the idea of art that responds immediately to the various issues that colour the political and social landscape. The best thing about the performance was that it centered on the human body, and expressed through the various a more considered response to the outside world. The effective use of video, lighting and film made her categorise her show not only as dance but a dance installation. It appeared to be dance but the insistence on it as dance installation may be the new definitions which are cropping up in the view of the intrusion or inclusion of other mediums and forms like lights, video, films and music. Pronounced, stating their own presence, than flowing unseen and unheard within the entirety of the performance.

Sarwat Ali

The author is a culture critic based in Lahore

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