Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Fase,Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich is like a Chinese puzzle. The first movement Piano Phase has De Keersmaeker and Tale Dolven dancing in simple pale girlish dresses against a white backdrop, with Remon Fromont’s subtle lighting creating the illusion of four dancers. The women’s arms swing metronomically and precisely in repetition, they turn together and the minimalist music and shaping becomes almost indistinguishable from each other. White turns black, as the lights dim, and it is as though the two are now in negative, with more brusque aggressive gestures, still synchronised.
The second, Come Out finds the duo, now in smart shirts and chinos and sitting together on stools, acting almost as automatons. The sweep and turn of their phrasing (sharp elbows,hands, heads) makes them seem as munitions workers in war-torn Europe, with only lamps to light them in a sleek, covert operation,or Kraftwerk’s Robots.Women as slick machines, operating machines.
In contrast, the final pieces couldn’t be more different-Violin Phase, the solo, is eerily lit by Mark Schwentner, making De Keersmaeker seem like an apparition. As she whirls girlishly, making the angular shaping of Piano Phase bolder and sharper, her skirts fly up in defiance. Back as a twosome, De Keersmaeker and Dolven’s Clapping Music pitches the duo as human semaphores, all thrusting inwards and jutting back. It’s like code as dance.
The four pieces are ultimately jarring, ever shifting and seem to be a meditation on the limitations of dance as the female body ages.These pieces date from 1982. De Keersmaeker is at once confronting her past self and looking to the future. It’s a visceral,often unearthly performance, and utterly hypnotic.
Part of the Cottier Chamber Project