When She Has Vertiginous Fervour

by Rok Vevar

Dance performance Veronika Decides...

Choreography: Gagik Ismailian

Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet Ljubljana

Opening night: March 17,2005

 


»Where are people disappearing and why nobody notices it?« This is the question that the multiplied Veronika (choreography by Gagik Ismailian) from the ballet ensemble of the Ljubljana Opera and Ballet Theatre is asking herself. The empty orchestra space - where there is neither a concrete concert orchestra nor a conductor to dictate the rhythm of a dance movement - transforms into an abyss swallowing the uniformed individual of the contemporary world possessed with the daily-routine choreography. The fact that the origin of the music (music for me performance was written by the duo Silence), to which people dance nowadays, cannot be located or seen drives Veronika into despair; the anonymous dictate of the rime and the melody is exactly the thing that make the main female character transform into an abstract She, uniformed, tive shop-window of the liberal capitalistic industrial production (cosmetíc, textile and food industry, media..). A woman who according to the above context is left with mere pathology (depression, neurosis, hysteria) as her only specifically individual experience. We, the spectators follow the performance behind the curtain (the starting scene of curtain opening); the sight into the intimacy happens in the moment when the performance literally lays eyes on us (a projection of an eye in the scene when the dimensions shake for all the Veronikas and they fall from the chairs to the ground). Who is Veronika in this performance? The actual Veronika from Coelho's novel is actualised as a universal distress of a modern human being, as a function failure to which 'the world of will and design' is trying to change the human race; mis change is not limited just to one gender. Actually, soon after the beginning, the whole male part of the ensemble — in an explicitly talking scene — declares to be Veronika. The concept of gender is divided into those who — uninformed and technicistic — 'dance as this anonymous somebody dictates and plays', and into those who decide not to do so. The latter go mad because of various forms of 'strait-jackets' - as one of the scenes (with a large metal construction) was named by the creators of the performance. This strait-jacket is nothing else but designed uniform into which the potential failure concerning humanity is trapped by the modern socially political context so, the performance does not categorise madness into diagnostic mythology of psychiatric institutions but it rather perceives it as the remainder of the process that is trying to reduce the human subject into its mere operational function. In a classical ballet manner (or choreography) madness could be equalised with dancing (any dance that manages to escape the inert technicism representing thus a liberated territory); this 'dance' layer of the performance is carried out excellently, as in the play about 'red shoes' as in the final scene, where the spectators may watch the video recording of documentary shots from the rehearsals from the performance. Through skilful use of general dance positions, discourses (Pina Bausch, contact improvisation, Wim Vandekeybus, modified ballet forms), and in combination with autobiographic dance investments of the members of the ballet ensemble, the performance creates a paradigmatic break in the context of a national institution that we could name: democratisation of the body. In a territory of universal human distress and outside movement manners, the dancers suddenly acquire names and surnames, their bodies gain flesh and blood. As such they dance out the problems — for a change concerning just them - not merely the choreography. And they are more than originally in their dancing. The dramaturgy of the performance (Irena Staudohar) places skilfully ali the delicate points in their sensible field; the set design (Matej Filipcic), the costume design (Alan Hranitelj), and light composition contribute their well calculated interventions to a consistent sign-system of the performance. Verortíka Decides...created by Gagik Ismailian and by the ballet ensemble of the Ljubljana Opera and Ballet Theatre represents a masterful dance achievement as well as a binding decision.