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  • Chris O'Rourke

Dublin Dance Festival 2021: Forme(s) de Vie/Farmer Train Swirl - Étude/ Breathing

Breathing - Hiroshi Sugimoto/Aurélie Dupont. Photo Les Films Pelléas

Is all movement dance? What about when mobility isn't possible? In Forme(s) de Vie/Form(s) of Life (***) three short films back to back see dance approaching physiotherapy. In which choreographer Eric Minh Cuong Castaing (Shonen) and his crew move and position persons with reduced mobility like human puppets. A boxer ducks and weaves, his eyes magnetising, his breathing distressed; a woman sways silently like a tree in a forest; following a forest hike, a group find connection as arms and hands speak to being touched and untouched. Visually, there might appear to be little on offer, even if the third film is cinematically more ambitious. But surrender to them. Go with their flow; slow, easy, and assured. To a place deeply moving, deeply unsettling, and deeply human. It may not be dance, but there's dancing.

Forme(s) la Vie - Eric Minh Cuong Castaing/Shonen. Photo Victor Zebo

From physiotherapy to music video, Farmer Train Swirl - Étude (**), sees Belgian choreographer and dancer Cassiel Gaube explore House dance looking for fresh possibilities. Lights in the dark, all moody, broody and blue; this short piece wastes considerable time getting out on the dance floor. When it does, camera angles spend more time creating a club mood than establishing a lexicon. Initially resembling a badly blurred video of a Northern Soul dancer, the comparison comes to an abrupt end and not in Gaube's favour; rooted to the spot, practicing what resembles half hearted voguing whenever the camera offers a clear view. When motion occurs, Cassiel drags himself around the floor like a mad scientist's assistant. Throughout, Gaube is the half focus of attention, or at least has arms are. Along with some workaday video, lights, and music by Amer, Clément Chalm and Gaube, and Omar S respectively. In Farmer Train Swirl - Étude, House dance comes very near the bottom of a very long pecking order. Surfacing as snippets between what look like badly taken headshots; or dancing captured on a cheap phone by someone three sheets to the wind. If it ends looking like it wants to be Northern Soul again, the best you can say is at least they're both dances rooted in the street.

Farmer Train Swirl - Étude by Cassiel Gaube. Photo Luc Depreitere

Entering it's final few furlongs, DDF2021 offers a number of free shows, beginning with Breathing (****). Shot by Hiroshi Sugimoto on the glass roof of the Odawara Art Foundation, it features Artistic Director of the Paris Opera Ballet, Aurélie Dupont, performing the solo Ekstasis, a work choreographed by Martha Graham in 1933 and reimagined by Virginie Mécène. It's all in the hips as Dupont fuses grace to movement like some classical greek goddess. Poised, elegant, under Dupont's skilful execution Mécène reimagined choreography hints of flamenco and slow moving katas. A swirl of passion near the end of its brief 7 minutes sees Dupont return slowly to stillness; aloof, sensual, distant. Many will try, but few will grace a stage, or camera lens, with the same grace and elegance as Dupont.

Forme(s) de Vie, by Eric Minh Cuong Castaing (Shonen) /Farmer Train Swirl - Étude, by Cassiel Gaube/ Breathing by Hiroshi Sugimoto and Aurélie Dupont are available online as part of Dublin Dance Festival 2021.

For tickets or more information, visit Dublin Dance Festival 2021.

Dublin Dance Festival 2021 runs May 18 to May 30.


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