To enjoy the music of minimalist composer Steve Reich is to be brought one step closer to appreciating Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s choreography for Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich. Fase can be seen as a visual representation of Reich’s music through body movement. The dance is also minimalist and thrives on repetition. In both instances, the effect is hypnotic.
De Keersmaeker and fellow dancer Tale Dolven wear simple clothes and shoes that only vary in tone from white to light grey. Two spotlights slightly turned inwards cast the performers’ shadows on a white background. The intensity of the blackness projected doubles where the shadows converge.
The first movement is set to “Piano Phase.” There is a real symbiosis with the music; the movement remains simple and is at first built upon synchronization between the dancers. But soon there is a slight lag in their movement and instead of mimicking each other, they become mirror images.
Most of the choreography takes place on a horizontal line, with only a few forays vertically, casting the performance on three different planes across the stage. The repetitive movement is performed with such ease that it makes it look as though the dancers are performing it without thought, as if it’s now been assimilated into their bodies memories.
Though it uses similar motifs, “Come Out” has a very different feel as the dancers are now sitting on stools. They perform the same movements, but not simultaneously. However, their gestures still often end up meeting.
Despite the performers’ anchored position, it is the most violent section of the piece. In order to move, the upper body must fight the stasis of the lower body, creating tension where they hinge at the waist. Also, their arms often hit their waist and legs.
“Violin Phase” is the only solo, danced by De Keersmaeker. This piece is based on a circular pattern, where she rotates across her own body as well as across a circle delimited by light. At first she only revolves on the circumference, which is reminiscent of a clock. When she begins to cut across by scurrying along the radius, it comes across as a desire to defy time. The movement becomes freer and more playful as she lifts her skirt and bends down to hit the floor.
The evening ends with the pleasant percussion piece, “Clapping Music.” Both performers bounce back and forth, sometimes slowing their momentum almost to a standstill, landing on the tip of their toes. There is a playful relationship between the music and the dance that is contagious.
Fase, which played at Usine C in January, is not the kind of work that is affecting on an emotional level; instead, it manages to claim timelessness as its standing ground. Twenty-five years after its creation, it still works.
PREVIEW: Jocelyne Montpetit’s Faune continues at Agora de la danse until Feb. 9. For more information, call 514.525.1500.