Both Sitting Duet

De Standaard, Belgium, January 8th 2003
Score for the ordinary things

Two men on two chairs and a choreography for two pairs of hands: Both Sitting Duet limits movement to the absolute minimum. For a whole performance you sit looking in fascination at a simple, almost laconic playing with hands. A score composed of brief movements for one musician and one dancer. Movement very gradually becomes music, and out of simple repetitions, simultaneous sequences and overlapping hand movements, arises a complex piece of work in which it is precisely the simplicity that raises a world of questions.

It is not the first time that Jonathan Burrows has come up with a bold minimalism. His choreographic work is a quest for the zero line in dance: for the point where dance stops being dance or, vice versa, where ordinary movements become dance. He uses his technically perfectly trained body as an instrument to this end.

In Weak Dance Strong Questions he came face to face with the untrained body of the dramatist Jan Ritsema, which led to a jerky confrontation, a search for an individual body language. This time, with Matteo Fargion, the performance takes on an expressly musical character.
On the floor in front of the two performers lies a sort of score, whose pages are occasionally turned. In this way the hand movements also lose a great deal of their informality. And the increasing concentration, which as a member of the audience makes you see more and more in less and less, makes a composition form in your mind which becomes more clearly audible in the course of the performance. This collaboration explores an extremely fascinating intermediate zone between music and choreography: a lively conversation of rhythms in movement, and the sound that movement produces.

On the other hand there is the material they use. The ordinary movements, which here and there seem to refer to everyday actions. A pat on the shoulder, a clout on the knee. Perfectly ordinary movements, stripped of all virtuosity, that have nothing to prove and are not intended to dumbfound anyone. It is a ballet of the ordinary and the banal, which, in the context of a precise choreography, undermines all fixed premises regarding dance. Like the difference between the trained and the ordinary body, and between unnatural dance and the common or garden choreography of everyday life.

It is precisely the restraint shown and the questions this minimalism raises that make Both Sitting Duet fascinating and challenging. Recommended.

Elke Van Campenhout