Letters 2 Dance
The dancing body moves across a page like the tip of a pen
In the book ABECEDA (1926), a highlight of the Czech avant-garde, a dancer and a typographic design melted together to create a new alphabet. Almost one hundred years later, Femke Gyselinck re-examines the relationship between movement and letter images. Letters 2 Dance 'reads' like a love letter to the art of dance and to life itself.
Run time 60 minutes
Location Melkweg Upstairs
LETTERS 2 DANCE
In 1926, the Czech dancer and choreographer Milca Mayerová choreographed the letters of the alphabet as a ballet. Her movements were a visual trigger for the letter designs of constructivist and surrealist artist, writer and critic Karel Teige - a key figure in the Czech avant-garde movement of the time. The photomontage that resulted from their artistic double act was incorporated in the book ABECEDA. The unique, elegant and sometimes witty 'dance Polaroids avant la lettre' are still regarded as highlights of modernism.
Almost one hundred years later, dancer and choreographer Femke Gyselinck, former artistic assistant of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, translates the masterpiece to today's world. Following in the footsteps of the Czech duo, Gyselinck created her own dance alphabet, which will be published in book form in the autumn under the title Gymnastics of the Mind.
-|-But of course, a dance alphabet on paper is also crying out for a live performance. Letters 2 Dance makes that translation from paper to stage. The letters, depicted in the book as photographed poses, are 'returned' to movement. They clump together into 'words' and search between the lines for life in all its mystery. With a wink to what makes our existence fascinating, funny, and sometimes so wonderfully banal. Because, hey, isn't it that funky YMCA arm dance by the American disco group Village People what we see here?
letters and musical samples
Three dancers (including Gyselinck herself) stand on stage, side by side with musician-composer Liesa Van der Aa. The interpretation of letters and musical samples - full of rarefied violin sounds, tinkling pianos and jazzy vibes - go hand in hand. The dance leads the music, and conversely, the musical composition determines the choreography. Thus, you 'read' the performance as an exchange of letters, between the dancers themselves and between movement and music.
-|-The transparent surfaces in Asli Çiçek's set design appear on the stage like pages. They reinforce the image of the dancing body moving across a page like the tip of a ballpoint pen. ‘Elusive beauty,’ as a critic put it.
‘The dance is hyper-precise without losing its spontaneous flair, ping-pongs delicately with the music, and ingeniously intertwines the dancers' phrases. Do you have to be able to read movement to understand it? No, the body speaks for itself.’
concept and dance Femke Gyselinck
dancers Sue-Yeon Youn en Luka Švajda
composition and execution of music Liesa Van der Aa
scenography Asli Çiçek
costumes Heide Vanderieck
dramaturgy and coaching Wannes Gyselinck
technical lead and light and sound Brecht Beuselinck and Thomas Vermaercke
assistant director Emma Meerschaert
-|-production Caravan Production
promotion Caravan Production en GRIP
coproduction C-Mine (Genk, BE), KAAP (Brugge, BE), Kunstencentrum Vooruit (Gent, BE), kunstencentrum nona (Mechelen, BE), STUK (Leuven, BE), Workspacebrussels (BE), ICI-CCN Montpellier (FR) and Het Laatste Bedrijf (BE)
with support from the Flemish Government and the Tax Shelter measure of the Belgian Federal Government