Dancing Out of the Echo Chamber – TELL ME
The stage of the Philharmonic Hall is empty except for a chair and a light. The camera captures a man in the spotlight at the edge of the stage – a solitary figure before the empty rows of seats. A whirring sound starts up and be begins to speak. »Ich bin siebenundzwanzig years old. Gekommen aus Spanien, Barcelona. I think that’s the phrase I’ve said so many times, lately.«
These very first words already hold the key to the central themes of the hour-long dance performance. The first chapter of the TELL ME series is all about language and identity, about origins, the colours blue and pink and, with them, gender roles and performance.
Despite being closely tied to dancer Alfonso Fernández Sánchez’s biography, the story is not all about him. After all, in the second part of the performance, Serena Landriel gives expression to her own attitude in dance and words – to the same music and with the same stage set. Quite intentionally, the two perspectives do not end up flowing into any common form or self-contained message. Fernández intends above all to create a platform for exchange with his project. It’s all about talking about the same thing and thereby articulating varying opinions, he says.
For him, the fleeting nature of the moment is important in performance situations. What happens can do so only in this moment and cannot ever be repeated. In a total of ten evenings, TELL ME will thus explore various subjects as part of the »Gasteig moves« series.
»At the end of the day, it’s all about sincerity. Tomorrow I shall be someone different. And in ten years I may be someone else again. But on the stage, I express myself as I am right now at this moment – with all my experiences and memories.« Alfonso Fernández Sánchez
Born in Spain, he has been active in Munich since 2014, first as a dancer in the Ensemble of the Gärtnerplatz Theatre, then as a freelancer. In the project, he does not want to limit his own role. He is no choreographer in the classical sense, who follows his own perspective and ideology through performance. Rather, Fernández sees himself as an enabler and networker, who creates encounters between various artistically conceived ways of perceiving and presents them to the audience. This does not require his own presence on stage all the time, says Fernández. The form is only found in the collaboration with the various dancers. The structure of the various chapters of TELL ME thereby moves within the tension between repetition and variation: on the one hand it concerns the rhythms of the recurring music, the chair and the lamp, on the other, the staging is open in its dance improvisation and its themes.
A lot will result spontaneously, says Fernández. »It is not about the result, but about the possibility of developing, of grow and of enabling audiences to see things in new ways.« If, for example, someone wanted to do some research on climate change, the project would offer the opportunity of designing a performance and trying it out in front of an audience: Without any pressure to reach a hasty conclusion, but full of incentives for the discussion that arises from varying opinions. Thus, the project opens a great opportunity both for performers and for audiences to hold debates outside their own echo chamber.
When this dialogue with the public can take place again in real life is written in the stars. Because of the corona measures, the premiere could only be enjoyed as a stream, and as long as nothing changes, the upcoming performances will also take place as streams. This also gives the chair and the lamp a somewhat ironic touch. The view of the homely sitting room that they recall is more familiar than ever: as a background in video conferences, as a private room turned office. Yet the beginning of TELL ME was conceived precisely as an impulse to come together, for dancers and their public. If Fernández exuberantly tells of the enthusiastic reaction of a lighting technician after recording the stream, it shows how much artists draw on their physical closeness to their audience.
The baby was born with the performance of the first chapter of TELL ME, says Fernández. »Now we have to help it grow up.« For this, it must play, learn and grow, not only in people’s living rooms, but explore the stages of the Gasteig’s packed auditoriums again, from the intimate Black Box to the open foyers all the way to the Philharmonic Hall. And if, like Fernández, one believes that great changes can happen in little steps, this will certainly happen one day.
Text: Benedikt Feiten
Photos: Alfonso Fernández Sánchez, Pedro Dias (portrait of Fernández)
»TELL ME« will continue in 2021 with further chapters on various themes – we will keep you posted. You can watch the already broadcasted chapters here.