Study 4, Fandango and Other Cadences
What does a body archive look like? Two pairs of burning feet trample across the open-air scene to crack the silence. Past and present converse in folk spins and snapping fingers in the air. Visceral hops set the rhythm of this ongoing exercise – how to experience someone else’s movement memory. Where does movement come from?
Sounds of audio interviews set the musicality of this duet that inevitably becomes a live entity with a face, voice and soul. Combining traditional Basque popular dance with contemporary forms of approaching movement, this duet oscillates around repetition, retention, and release with some glimpses of stillness.
Study 4, Fandango and Other Cadences uses gestures and images – replicated in both masculine and feminine figures – to recycle folk dance language and transmute physical memory into something new without leaving something behind. Perhaps that is what a body archive looks like: a common root that ramifies into different bodies.
The setting cannot be better: an abandoned factory building, yellow spring flowers, 3pm Greek sunlight, a breeze from the sea. In summer-white clothes, Aina Alegre and Yannick Hugron enter naturally, the steps echoing in the factory. Hugron completes the movement with some words from his former training in Basque dance. As the show moves forward, we find out about the origins of this dance from the documented voiceover (in French and Spanish) or the printed English translation.
Whatever movements emerge, they flow in continuity, like the twinkling waves from the gulf of Eleusis. The cadence is firm, nuanced and enduring. Suddenly they leave the stage and bring back two black bags with red petals that flow and roll on the white floor. Grabbing some petals, they turn their tight shirts into festive costumes. Now we are somewhere in the Basque country: crowded old town square, dancers in white and red, church bell ringing.
We feel the joy as dance is returned to the people, we feel the joy as a folklore dance can be inclusive, we feel the joy as dance brings a poetic touch to this world of uncertainty.
Aina Alegre and Yannick Hugron begin their folkloric footwork close to each other. Their jumps gradually reach higher, the sound of their landing on the floor becomes louder and the accent of their movement changes. The initial gesture of the feet loses its origin and becomes something different that reminds us of something else: they seem to perform a sort of a club dancing with occasional high kicks under the sound of the church bells, or they resemble flamenco dancers when they place red petals on their chests.
From speakers on a voiceover, we listen to explanations and instructions on how to properly perform the Basque folklore and its variations; we learn about the importance of the dynamic, the intention, the sound and the gender of the gesture. We see them seductively rocking their pelvises and fencing with each other, dissolving the traditionally assigned gender to movement.
It’s a delightful deployment of the physicality of the footwork and the musicality of the moving body, playing with the evolution of traditional Basque movement, its references from and influences upon other movement forms.
Basque folklore and dance originate from the Franco-Spanish region of the same name. For years, Aina Alegre has delved into its gestures of hammering, its stamping of feet, always with downward accent and lifted chest. Her work animates the incantations of former Basque dancers, including fellow performer Yannick Hugron. Together they map stories onto movement, catalysing muscle memory.
Staged amongst dusty ruins of Elefsina and a blanket of yellow flowers, the couple strike ground with assured grace. As the breeze tickles their crisp white clothing, the breath in their lungs guides the rhythm. The steps, never exhausted, cultivate a pace easy on the eye and in subtle tandems, they hop, stamp, click, and even sway. Cyclical agricultural gestures are softened by traces of flamenco, a proud sensuality in the shoulders. Alegre’s use of benevolent simplicity offers the movement free will, a choreographic language spirited by conversation extracts with former dancers, heard throughout in French and Spanish.
Inherited tradition can clash with modern conditions of society, but with this bountiful sharing the Basque essence is alive and beating in the present context – pleasure and lightness for all.