Zeit is the first duet Marc Vanrunxt has created in his career as a choreographer. It is a duet for two exceptional dancers, Eva Kamala Rodenburg (Private Collection, Raum, Extraction) and Igor Shyshko (former dancer with Rosas), who in this setting transform into a mythical couple. With their tall, androgynous figures they appear to be a likeness of each other, which is both differentiated and duplicated by the differences in their languages of movement.
Zeit is based on the double album of the same name by Tangerine Dream (1972). Tangerine Dream was an early electronic pop/rock group from Germany which helped to create the basis of electronic music as we now know it, ranging from Kraftwerk and Brian Eno to Radiohead and Recoil.
Like Raum, a three-hour performance Vanrunxt created in 2006, Zeit is also an attempt to convert the concept of time into space and make it tangible. However, while Raum starts with three performers almost imperceptibly moving backwards in space, Zeit begins with Eva Kamala Rodenburg and Igor Shyshko side by side and moving diagonally across the space, gaze fixed on infinity and full of expectation and yearning for the future. Whereas Raum was a performance of presence set in the here and now, Zeit is much more focused on something that has yet to emerge.
Zeit is about the connection between the individual and the cosmos, between micro and macro, and translates as a quest for new dimensions and ways to break out.
Interview with Marc Vanrunxt, 27th June 2011
After working as a choreographer for so many years, this is the first time you have created a duet. What made you decide to do this at this point in your career?
I have been thinking for a long time of adding a third element or action from outside choreography. A third presence in addition to Igor and Eva, or a second if I consider Igor and Eva as a single entity. In recent years I have constantly introduced foreign bodies and outside elements into my work, such as the contributions from various artists in Black Mark and the physical presence of the two artists in Raum. But I abandoned the idea because I myself did not want to become distracted or give the audience the chance to be distracted by something that is external to the dancers. I wanted to concentrate fully on Igor and Eva, on the duet.
The word ‘duet’ is used simply because this is the term used when two people are on stage. Just as you have a monologue or dialogue in theatre; it's just a name.
I've always been afraid of the constraints that the duet form entails, especially the limits it imposes on one’s reading of it and possible interpretations. Because you are dealing with a very classic form and in this case also the combination of a man and a woman.
Inevitably the result is something that is not addressed in a trio or a solo. When I see what we have, halfway through the work process, I think that on the one hand I've given up the duet form and on the other have confirmed and strengthened it. And then I also realise that everything has to do with direction, how you deal with the direction of the two dancers in a duet: the direction they look of course, but also of their movement. As yet the dancers do not touch each other, which is very unusual in a duet. In that sense, Zeit is clearly different from a duet in classical ballet as well as from contact improvisation in contemporary dance. By starting to write we unwittingly avoided the limits, which I mentioned before, or any narrowing.
Reducing everything or as much as possible to the body itself is something I have increasingly focused on lately. Trying to define, touch on and show qualities even before movements: how you do something, how you approach something or where the movement begins and where it goes. My work constantly balances, back and forth, between performances such as Unspeakable, in which many dramaturgical references come from literature and art, and those like Last Pieces, in which these references are deliberately avoided so that the focus is wholly on the music and the dance. In Zeit I clearly opt for the latter. The dancers have to carry everything, literally and figuratively, so that they can reflect, transform and re-communicate everything that is significant, the input and the ideas. And in that sense it is really about watching and following the energy and flows of movement that arise. During rehearsals and during the creation I had to draw everything out of myself and out of the dancers. I had, as they say, ‘nothing in my pockets and nothing up my sleeve’. Creating a performance is not just a gamble, it’s bluffing too. I don’t usually have any backup plan, I just have the starting point, over which I brood for a year, and then you just touch wood and hope it works. It’s like doing a somersault without a safety net. That makes it much more real and exciting. And a bit dangerous for everyone concerned.
So the idea of the duet did not come from the form itself, but rather from the fact that you wanted to bring Eva and Igor together on stage?
Yes, exactly. It really originated the other way around, from the dancers, from their personalities, their physicality.
We immediately notice a number of similarities in their physical appearance, even though as far as language of movement and background is concerned they differ a lot. To what extent do you consider this to be a fundamental feature of this work?
Just as when I create a solo, I stick to an haute couture idea, which is creating something specially for a particular dancer, this idea also applies to Eva and Igor. They have different bodies and a different charisma. They are not clones. My aim is definitely not to achieve uniformity, but in fact to crystallize and enhance those differences. I would even go so far as to say that this is the impulse behind the performance.
These are not two solos. It is not a duet. It has something to do with duplicating, a sort of division, like brother and sister who have similarities and differences. Adding a third element to this would be almost unbearable.
Following Morton Feldman, you have now opted for music by Tangerine Dream. Although they are very different, they are about the atmosphere created rather than an imposed rhythm that pushes you in a certain direction. Is this what appeals to you in their work?
Indeed, in both cases the emphasis is on free music and therefore there is a kind of openness in listening to and dancing to the music. Actually, this music was not created for dancing and apparently this is what I find so appealing. Both Feldman's work and that of Tangerine Dream are the antithesis of Le Sacre du Printemps for example, or Bolero, in which you have no choice but to follow the music. The music tells you what to do and if you do not conform, then that's a statement.
Besides this, I always revert to the beginning of something rather than relying on yet another interpretation or another revival. Electronics were already being used in ‘pop’ music before Zeit, of course, but Tangerine Dream is a really important source and served as a model for later masterpieces – such as Brian Eno's ambient music and even David Bowie’s Station to Station. That notion of artists who have set something in motion, innovators who may even be less 'well known' than their followers, has always fascinated me. In this sense, my choices usually lie in a quest for authenticity and originality.
To be honest, I didn’t know Tangerine Dream until the cover of the Zeit album caught my eye: the dead planet or eclipse or whatever it is. I have discovered a lot of groups through cover designs. For me a good cover meant a record could already no longer be bad. The magic of the cover of Zeit was followed by a fascination with the music.
It is no coincidence that the album was called ‘Zeit’. After Raum (2006), the two halves of the coconut came together following an interval of five years. I then found out that Raum is far more about space and Zeit more about time. But of course time and space are linked. You can’t create a performance about space without talking about time, and vice versa.
Text Sigrid Janssens
choreographer: Marc Vanrunxt
dancers: Eva Kamala Rodenburg, Igor Shyshko
music: Zeit (1972) by Tangerine Dream
set designer: Koenraad Dedobbeleer
make-up: Inge Grognard
light and technicalrealisation: Stefan Alleweireldt
consultant: Marie-Anne Schotte
with the support of: the Flemish Community
with thanks to: Monty, Vooruit & Kaaitheater
- 28/10/11 Vooruit, Ghent
- 29/10/11 Vooruit, Ghent
- 09/12/11 Monty, Antwerp
- 10/12/11 Monty, Antwerp
- 27/01/12 Stuk, Louvain
- 15/02/12 Rotterdamse Schouwburg
- 23/10/12 Frascati, Amsterdam
- 09/11/12 C-Mine, Genk
- 24/11/12 Storm op Komst, Turnhout
- 10/01/13 kaaistudio's, Brussels
- 11/01/13 kaaistudio's, Brussels
- 16/01/13 Kortrijkse Schouwburg
- 11/02/13 Toneelhuis, Antwerp
- 16/05/13 CC Hasselt
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