On the left, there is a pile of blocks that could easily be rubble, and three characters, strewn across the Maitisong stage, in what I initially perceive to be drug-induced dissipation. A motionless woman lies on her belly on the far right, one male character pours a liquid that seems set on the last male character?s lower back, which is also lying frontal. The active man then sits upright in silence, for quite a stretch, pouring the same liquid on his hand and looking back and forth between the immobile characters.
This was the striking first impression of French choreographer, Pascal Montrouge?s Os, staged last Wednesday evening on a French Embassy and Alliance Francaise sponsored date in Gaborone.
Montrouge and his entourage are on an African tour. The production, which featured dancers, Romain Bertet, Romain Capello and Diane Soubeyre, was first performed in November last year at the Festival Aujourd?hul musiques in Perpignan, France.
A throbbing pulse of the abstract music, composed by Andrea Cera, prompts the two males to stand up, opening in a stance that suggests defensiveness or self-preservation as footsteps of a passer-by sound.
Montrouge then sends us on a multimedia-aided contemporary dance experience, subjective to audience members? personal moods, attitudes and opinions. The male dancers are synchronised in movement, occasionally dancing solos that feature hip jutting that audience members audibly responded to.
While the woman continues to lie motionless on the ground, the more aggressive, of the two male characters periodically straightens out the blocks suggesting travel or distance, ?or a boundary,? as Montrouge would offer in a discussion.
As the music becomes disjointed, the male dancers start moving in opposite parallels, making no distinct body contact with each other until the other male dancer touches the motionless woman.
Combative movement between the men ensue, ending in the ragdoll-like flaying about of the placid female dancer.
Os, which is a word meaning bone, is actually a story about refusing submission
?The dancers may fall but always get up,? Mr Montrouge said in halting English in a discussion that followed their performance. ?And bones are the last tangible remains of the human body.?
?They are the last poem to come from within ourselves, ? Montrouge had commented in the evenings programme, which also stated that Os is a ?dance constantly defining the relationship between bones and the earth. An x-ray vision of exodus.?
?Contemporary dance is poetry, it is open to interpretation,? Montrouge says occasionally turning to Soubeyre, briskly murmuring statements in French. The liquid that set in the dancers hands is wax, signifying fire-burn, that is used by archaeologists to trace lost homes.
Giving an example, Montrouge recalls a dance he saw in his youth that he thought was terrible. Ten years later, he realised it had stirred thoughts he wasn?t ready to address.
After a curtain raising performance by Sedibeng Choral Society, Montrouge and Diane Soubeyre had opened Pascal Monontrouge Objets Choregraphiques evening?s performances with choreography extracted from a production titled, Pardon Mars! which is Montrouge?s very first production, where the choreography is arranged not to music but to the female character?s quirky ?love story? soliloquy, reminiscent of popular chick flick, Bridget Jones? Diary and Sex in the City. Her text had been translated from French to English.
This coming Tuesday, the dancers perform in Blantyre, Malawi.