Falling to pieces
On 4 June, Rosas will show Brussels what happens when a Japanese-born dancer with 25 years under her belt decides to collaborate with a UK-based performance artist with no dance training whatsoever.
Text + performance art
Tim Etchells has been watching Fumiyo Ikeda dance with the Brussels-based company for the last quarter century. His own work has developed across the channel in Sheffield, where he works with art collaborative Forced Entertainment. Although never having worked together before, in the summer of 2008, they decided to team up on what has now become in pieces.
Over the course of the past four months, work has begun in earnest. The production mixes movement and text, with the two artists working together on both aspects. As Etchells stated up front: "I'm not a choreographer, and I don't have a dance vocabulary. It was interesting to be close to and part of this process, to think about how it works and to find the language to talk about it."
Ikeda, on the other hand, jumped in early on, providing snippets of text to stimulate the artistic process. A Japanese radio show had provided a series of topics to which listeners were supposed to respond with personal anecdotes by phone or post. These phrases - such as "Something my father never told me" or "A memory from the summer of 1989" - formed the basis for this collaboration.
"We didn't have a big headline concept," Etchells admits, but, as the work evolved, the themes of memory and identity have come to the fore. "How and what we remember, how we define ourselves in stories and in gesture."
As a solo performance, one necessarily sees the work as a portrait of Ikeda, but the artists also hope that audiences will see their own stories through the lens of this personal yet fictitious performance.
The artists placed a major emphasis on a balance between movement and text. While movement maintains a certain amount of ambiguity - one is often imagining explanations for what is presented on stage - text has a way of explaining things very succinctly. "What we didn't want to do was make a piece where the movement was super-ambiguous and the text told you what was going on," says Etchells. "Instead, the text remains ambiguous and open and playful, like the movement." (The text, by the way, is all in English.)
And what about that title? According to Etchells, it's meant to reflect both the work itself and the idea behind the work - in other words, a fragmentary work about the fragmentary nature of human existence.
Where: Kaaistudio's, Brussels
When: 4-6 & 10-13 June