The performative journey through the eyes of a dance therapist

From the position of mediator of the relationship with the community, I went with the 4 FOOLS, on their performative journey through their neighbourhood, the one where I also lived in my childhood. I had the feeling of a parent accompanying his children, which was confirmed by one of the passers-by: “am I with you, madam?”

Indeed, I had the feeling that, like a parent, I was accompanying and protecting their freedom to explore, while it was my responsibility to protect them from possible dangers. However, I felt I could only do this as long as they also followed the convention I had established beforehand: to stay together and listen to my signal (an alarm on the phone) when it was time to leave one point and resume moving to the next.

This convention was broken only once, at the Tricodava intersection, when they did not hear my signal, then they set off in two separate groups in different directions, one of the groups remained in the middle of the intersection, on an island…I no more knew what to do, I felt the intense panic of not being able to help them, of not being able to protect them either from cars or from possible intrusive passers-by… The result of this apparent transgression was so strongly aesthetic that I felt that it was worth it… in the end, I managed to contain my fear and resisted the temptation to speak to them, to leave my post, to intervene, and felt a sense of relief when they gathered at the entrance to the park, re-entering the established scheme… It was difficult then to stay still, to play the role of the quiet parent, as I had built up tension and wished I could let loose with them.

Looking back at the structure of the whole performative walk, one of the main findings of our supervisor Mary Coaten’s doctoral research came to mind. At the end of 10 dance-therapy sessions (free improvisation) with psychotic inpatients, he realized that they show an imbalance between forward movements and retreat movements (fast forward without the healthy counterpart of retreat). Similarly, our “madmen in the ship”, throughout the performative walk, only advanced, and never retreated. Coincidence, or reverberation of an element from the collective unconscious?

In the same vein, I noted with amusement that Denis remembered that, passing in front of the church, they improvised quite a lot on the “finger to finger” theme, rather unconsciously mirroring the famous scene on the Sistine Chapel Dome…

I reproduce here, in raw form, some comments of passers-by, noted in real-time as faithfully as possible:

“Do you catch mosquitoes?”

“Do you do yoga?”

“Do an Erasmus +”

“The day of the Lord is coming, repent!”

“You’re from the Masca theatre – they still do the pantomime…”

“They have the training, what else…”

“They have training, what else…”

“He’s feeling good, should I call an ambulance?”

Priest: “we have no questions, you are wonderful”

“We know it’s Dance Day, Răzvan and Dani told us”

Homeless teenagers: “go to Romanians have talent?”

“It’s a good thing they’re not crazy, I thought the world was crazy, it wouldn’t be surprising, what’s happening nowadays”

“Doing a Tik Tok? Either they’re actors, or they’re dancers or a sect!”

All in all, I also realized that the most important role in maintaining a sacred, performative space around the 4 dancers was the photographer, and not me, as we imagined at the beginning. Passers-by noticed him and respected the territory between him and the performers, some even asking permission before crossing. A passer-by explicitly recognized his authority:
They don’t fool the crazy, you don’t see that they are being filmed, they are organized!”
I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if we repeated the experiment without a visible photographer (perhaps shooting with a drone only). Ar fi fost oare altele reacțiile oamenilor?

Articolul scris de Loredana Larionescu, în procesul de lucru din cadrul[ship of fools] An Indie Box project co-financed by the National Cultural Fund Administration. The project does not necessarily represent the position of the National Cultural Fund Administration. AFCN is not responsible for the content of the project or how the results of the project may be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the beneficiary of the funding.

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