Ceyda Tanc

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Ceyda Tanc, Kaya

There’s no mistaking the humanism and idealism contained within Ceyda Tanc’s muscular choreography. This is bold, driving dance that highlights the physicality, self-possession and groundedness of bodies. Much of the dance took place near to the ground, as if to show the important relationship of humanity to earth and home.

The backdrop was one of beaten gold, and the lighting, similarly, deep low gold. We were in the world of sunset and sunrise, the liminal world of boundaries to be crossed and divisions to be negotiated and (perhaps) resolved. Fitting for the theme of ‘displacement’ and ‘resilience of those searching for belonging in a new community’ as the programme describes it.

But the synchronisation of the dancers was imperfect, even rough. A deliberate artistic choice, perhaps, but I found it frustrating given that the message seemed to be one of collective support and harmonious community. When the choreography returned to synchrony, I became increasingly irritated by its discord.

The soundtrack was bass-heavy, filled with hypnotic drums and rich synth pads. Compressed to death (muso jargon alert), it lacked any real dynamic and even the ‘quiet’ parts became a noisy interference, and did not energise or inform the dance.

Perhaps it was my own waning interest, but the dancers in the latter stages seemed unengaged, appearing to lose intensity, becoming deliberate rather than inspired.

In the last moments, the soundtrack disappeared and we heard breathing, the swish of fabrics and the footfalls of the dancers. If only the rest of the performance had given us the chance to hear this. Pre-performance, the dancers stood ready with a solo drummer playing her hand drum to one side. This simple accompaniment would have been far more effective and organic than the oppressive, one-note soundtrack that obliterated the physical presence of the dancers.

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