Finding The Moment
No one conveys the flow of energy through movement in quite the same way as Liz Roche. Under Roche’s choreographic gaze even the act of breathing can become profoundly moving. And in “Näher…closer, nearer, sooner” it does. Commissioned to celebrate the opening of the newly refurbished Goethe-Institut on Merrion Square, Roche, along with Shane O’Reilly, has created the promenade, site-specific piece “Näher…closer, nearer, sooner.” And it might well be one of Roche’s most vividly beautiful works to date.
Depending on which group you find yourself in as you begin to move around the Goethe-Institut, “Näher…closer, nearer, sooner” could get off to a less than stellar start. The audience sat in a classroom, Roche’s love of Yeats as a jumping in point is much in evidence. This time Yeats’ notion that at the moment of death we live, or dream, backwards to the beginning of our lives. Perhaps searching for that quintessential moment that defines us. In the classroom a recorded voice lectures a little too long and heavy handedly to establish Yeats’ occult ideas, which come with an awful lot of 'what ifs.' Throughout “Näher…closer, nearer, sooner” a sense of the otherworldly, of the out of body, is supported by such intermittent recordings that often intrude rather than illuminate, sounding painfully insipid in contrast with Roche’s rich choreographic vocabulary.
Yet this uneasy monologue eventually gives way as the voice cedes to the body. In a long corridor seen through glass, bodies appear one by one, melting out from the walls like ghosts, moving tentatively forward, rushing in panic back again, crowding motionless, like zombies, beyond the glass. If composition and body architecture become visually engaging, the referencing of horror movies soon has them resembling the cinematically familiar.
With the arrival of a superb Finola Cronin, a brief promenade to the library upstairs opens up both the space and the performance in a sublime sequence. Inside the library, following simultaneous solos by Cronin and a mesmerising Kévin Coquelard, another door presently opens onto yet another library space. Yet it remains one space, made up now of two, inhabited by four dancers moving across the rooms, backwards and forwards, the door serving as both gateway and barrier. A subtle echoing of movements between Coquelard and a wonderful Henry Montes reinforces the sense of moments being revisited, or repeated. As does a radiant Anne-Laure Dogot, infusing it all with a disarming warmth. Throughout, dancers constantly move forward and backward, seeming to need to keep moving backwards in order to move forward. A short sequence of mirrored duets are made all the more palpable by virtue of one not being seen, depending on which room you’re in. Being conjured, or glimpsed, on the periphery of sight or imagination, the unseen duet inspires deeper searches. Including the artistic search to find the perfect expressive moment. That’s not it. Go back and try again. And again till the moment is finally recognised in something as complete as a kiss.
Leaving the library, Anne-Laure Dogot shines in a sublime trio with Coquelard and Montes crafted around a piano. Here the human ghosts are most vividly felt. Glimpsed again in the hallway, on the stairwell, and in Kevin Coquelard's towel slipping moment which almost steals the show.
In “Näher…closer, nearer, sooner” repeated movements, patterns, and sequences, exquisitely choreographed, blur the lines between the living and the dead, the past and the present, between who we thought we were and who we think we are. Energy flows, movements recur and lead to new sequences, and there’s never a permanent place to settle. All is shifting, always moving forward. Forward to go backward. Backward to go forward. Always searching, researching, and re-searching for the quintessential moment. Through this binding of binaries, of blank expressions with smiles of shy joy, ghosts with the all too human, “Näher…closer, nearer, sooner” resonates most powerfully, transforming the Goethe-Institut into a living, breathing, resonant space full of hope and memory.
“Näher…closer, nearer, sooner” by Liz Roche Company, runs at the Goethe-Institut as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2018 until September 23
For more information, visit Dublin Fringe Festival 2018