Creating Joy is an online repurposing of a planned performance by Flemish choreographer Ann Van den Broek. Joy, joy, joy. What’s in the name? On stage, master of ceremonies Gregory Frateur guides us through a clinical trial. Around him are lab-like trolleys bearing objects such as shiny shoes or a disco ball. On one, a double-sided flatscreen opens windows to recorded interviews, or to relays of dancers Louis Combeaud and Marion Bosett, at home baking bread or practising embroidery while they watch.
Frateur is dressed as a doctor, as are the two on-stage dancers, Gabriel Maury and Carla Guerra. Followed up-close by two mobile cameras, they physically translate possible answers to the main question: the cordial greetings of strangers passing at corona-proof distances, the movement of the hip in a salsa pattern. They explore these elements as if testing their percentage of joyness. It is aseptic to the point of ironic, Marie Kondo-worthy with a smile. That kind of joy.
Frateur introduces each videoclip with its ‘metadata’: recorded or live, film process, take number. He also discloses information about the creative process. The song A Part of Us All by Dez Mona, so we learn, is one of Van den Broek’s inspirations, and we get to see solo versions of it by every musician in the band. The soothing tune and the lyrics thus become the reddest of threads: ‘these are times to cherish, things to live for’. Are they? Like the flatscreens, the whole set-up is a calmly portrayed patchwork of double-sided features. On one of the screens, Van den Broek herself reveals the point: pain and joy coexist, but here she wants to give the latter the focus it deserves.
Van den Broek is best known for her way of enriching the choreographic manipulation of space and time through videographic means. So it is no surprise that Creating Joy, work-in-progress or not, feels more like a polished walk in the park of online streaming than a first step into uncharted terrain. The lab results look promising.