Thirteen ringing bells

(Post) French Connections

Australian Print Workshop
Paris study tour
May – June 2018

(Post) French Connections, part 2

French Connections, part 1
French Connections, part 2
French Connections, part 3
French Connections, part 4
French Connections, part 5
French Connections, part 6
French Connections, part 7

(Post) French Connections, part 1
(Post) French Connections, part 3
(Post) French Connections, part 4

5th June:
We have swapped the beautiful symmetry of our Parisian view for a temporary nest near to the base of Domtoren (Dom Tower, gothic-style, completed 1382) in Utrecht. On the third floor, with a bell tower for a headboard, the peal of thirteen ringing bells marks time, while the tower itself marks where the city of originated some 2,000 years ago.

(Image credit: Domtoren of Utrecht (detail), Steven van Lamsweerde, c. 1660, etching (With bell recording to come in time, perhaps. We’ll see.))

6th June:
If Ultrecht will have us, we’ll have it. 20,000 steps in a day about to fall into evening, and we’ve still more to see. The Petit Heron, with the grande dog in the doorway, is yet to open. In a nearby courtyard, the black and white cat with the limp will gladly accept a pat. And down by the canal, a dog like a cloud bounds up to us to say hello. A trip through the atmosphere at Sonnenborgh Museum Sterrenwacht, through the Weather and Sun rooms, and up the tightly wound stairs to the Merz and Lunt telescopes, yes, “knowing = measuring!”; yes, if Utrecht we’ll have us....


6th June (continued):
We went to a pre-performance talk, in Dutch, because we are here, and had come to Utrecht especially to see Nederlands Dans Theater (@ndtdance), and perhaps we hoped, via osmosis, we’d grown the language. We went because, who wouldn’t?

As part of the talk and to our delight, we heard Carolina Mancuso speak (in English, or were we suddenly fluent?) about her experience working with Crystal Pite on her brand new piece, at its core about rescue, Partita for 8 Dancers: “It is inspiring to be exposed to an artist that shares their way of being. A person that has the property of depth and (com)passion. Crystal Pite jumps around when an idea emerges and shares her thoughts with smiles all the while remaining extremely aware of the time frame of each day.”

As we race through the days, in a bid to outrun our own shadows, making the most of our time here, our chance to wash the eyes and adopt new forms, shakes rut from pattern, it was wonderful to see dancers on the stage doing what we desired, and triumphantly so. We dream of outrunning our shadows where they succeed at it, and more. In the theatre, for a moment, we hover. Who doesn’t want the chance to adopt a new form? The reminder that while paper can conceal, it can also reveal; a curve can be both convex and concave; two converging lines can make depth; an arm can draw an angular line from which all else hangs and follow it with a fluid melt of the limbs, as a weight rolls through the cavities inside the body; the reminder not to settle into one way but to keep looking, questioning, growing. Remain fluid, and adaptable. Tonight at Stadsschouwburg we saw Shut Eye (Sol León and Paul Lightfoot), Woke up Blind (Marco Goecke), and Partita for 8 Dancers but it was much more than that.

Thank-you. There are many, many ways to “draw a line from one point to another”.

* * *

This morning, as we take our last look at Utrecht, on foot, not bike, we are thinking about all we have seen so far, 20 days full, from Paris to the Netherlands. We are thinking about Savoir Fare. About the ephemeral nature of dance. Of how what we saw last night can never be seen again, no matter when or where the programme is staged. It was our original last night; our Mona Lisa. We can never sit in the same seats and experience the same work and feel the same thing, and see musical automatons from the Museum Speelklok made flesh in sequences within Pite’s Partita for 8 Dancers, just as we saw many-limbed gods from Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimete in her The Seasons’ Canon (@balletoperadeparis). What I saw, or rather, felt was also different to Louise, which was different to the person next to her, which was different to the person next to them. That no-one saw the same thing because we all read differently is no great revelation, but it is felt keenly. The tight knot of dancers hauled across the stage by a dancer in robe-red, who, with each step, falls to her knees, is in my foreground and under my skin. To the station!

(Image credit: Nederlands Dans Theater, Crystal Pite, Partita for 8 Dancers; @rahirezvanistudio)

* * *

Farewell Utrecht, with your musical rabbits (Museum Speelklok) and cats sunning on sills, and hello Amsterdam.


Image credit: Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, The Mariaplaats with the Mariakerk in Utrecht, 1663, oil on panel, in the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam