A dancer’s perspective on ‘Re-mapping the Body’

March 2015

SJBlog by Surabhi Jain, contemporary dancer from Bangalore 

I recently attended a contemporary dance workshop and a performance “Re-mapping the Body” conducted by Compagnie Linga from Switzerland. Here is my experience.

The workshop was facilitated by one of the dancers of the company, Dorota. She started with a warm up sequence with releasing the body on the floor, feeling the heaviness, moving parts of the body slowly and smoothly. Before I realized, it turned into an intense yoga based warm-up with a lot of emphasis on core strengthening. Dorota was a regular yoga practitioner and asked us to do poses from the sun salutation. We then did a small exercise, again based on releasing the body on the floor and how to move continuously, overlapping one movement into another. We moved left and right, changing rows and by the end of it, we were warmed up and ready to dance.

She then posed a question to us – ‘What do you mean by centre’? A very basic, but a very important question for dancers as we are constantly asked to hold our ‘centre’. Lot of replies came: ‘it’s the centre of gravity’, ‘the balancing part of the body’ and ‘what keeps us strong’ etc. She then explained that for her the centre is the group of muscles in our abdominal region, which really keeps us up and light and it’s very important to engage it at all times. And as everything in contemporary art, these definitions are not hard bound and we should interpret them as they work for us. We then did a small exercise of holding and releasing the centre in varying capacities.

Then she introduced a routine for us. It was a very balanced routine, considering she did not know the level of training of each of the dancers there. It had flow and elements of release and floor work and arm strength.

Re-mapping the Body
I was really looking forward to the performance after hearing that the music was created by dancers’ movements using technology. It started off with the dancers playing with these devices and then wearing them on their body. As they move parts of the body where the device was attached, a sound was produced. This idea was emphasised with different dancers moving together or individually or with one manipulating the other one. It was interesting to see how the music was produced when there was interaction happening within the group. There was a trio sequence where two dancers manipulated a third one. It was amazing to watch the third dancer’s body being released and at times it seemed like she was lifeless. In one of the duets, the dancer’s movements felt like it was inspired by Kathak or Tai-chi. It was a very innovative movement style in contemporary form of dance. One of the dancers wrapped 3 instruments around her head, hand and leg and moved which produced really nice music was from three different tones. I also found it interesting that the dancers were tying the devices on the stage itself. I think that emphasized that it was a real phenomenon and if they came in with the devices already on, we wouldn’t have realized how the sound started.

I’m not an expert, but for me, the concept seemed really strong, the dancing was absolutely fantastic and looked like fluid motion!