Letters 2 Dance

Letters 2 Dance is a choreographic elaboration of Gymnastics of the Mind (2020), a research project inspired by the book ABECEDA (1926). Femke Gyselinck researched the relationship between movement and typography, between dance and letter images through a dance-like dissection of the alphabet. It resulted in her own dance alphabet that will be published and distributed in cooperation with Koenig Books.

© Robbrecht Desmet
© Robbrecht Desmet

Letters 2 Dance builds on this by making the translation from book to stage. The photographed poses, congealed letters, regain their movement, clump together into words, and search for meaning. The performance explores the possibility of 'literally' writing dance (choreographing: literally 'writing movement'). Letters 2 Dance wants to explore the boundaries of this metaphor - dance as writing - in order to articulate more clearly the irreducible singularity and irreducibility of dance.

In a choreography for three dancers (Femke Gyselinck, Sue Yeon Youn & Luka Svajda), the dance 'describes' the space and the double meaning of 'letters' is fully played out: letter and letter. In that space - between the arbitrariness of the sign and the meaning inherent in communication - the dance language of Letters 2 Dance will move. How do you dance from letters to words, from word to sentence? What is the syntax of a dance phrase?

The starting point is a deliberate mission impossible: precisely by grafting the choreographic dance language onto the principles of language-in-a-sense, the uniqueness of dance becomes all the more clearly defined. It is not the letters, words, sentences, expressions that are communicated, but 'something else' - something that apparently cannot be captured in words, something that makes dance completely unique and untranslatable.

The dancers are on stage together with the eclectic musician/composer Liesa Van der Aa. The arrangement of letters and musical samples go hand in hand; the dance leads the music and creates a fabric of dancing/ speaking/ listening together. And vice versa: the musical composition co-determines the choreographic writing that moves between abstraction and depiction, which takes the spectator along, touches him and involves him in the game of depicting, representing and letting go of the attempt to be something other than oneself - a moving body.

Letters as a correspondence, between the dancers themselves, but also between related, and at the same time very different media: movement and music. The dancer's body becomes a pen point, drawing out phrases in interaction and dialogue with the music. Using the alphabet as a guideline, the compositional system developed aligns dance and music: the response of the one medium provokes the language of the other.

Aslı Çiçek's scenography further depicts the play with literalness and metaphor. Eight to ten light-coloured, transparent planes appear on the stage like pages, reinforcing the image of the dancing body as a pen point, like a letter being danced on the page. The static colour planes create a restriction in the space through which the dancers move, like a narrative that emerges between the lines.

Letters 2 Dance lets its choreographic writing balance on the threshold of sign and meaning. It invites the spectator to participate in the game of deciphering, with the dance language in a continuous tension between representation and abstraction.

Concept & Dance: Femke Gyselinck — Dance: Sue-Yeon Youn, Luka Švajda — Compositie & uitvoerder muziek: & Liesa Van der Aa — Scenography: Aslı Çiçek — Costumes: Heide Vanderieck — Dramaturgy & Coaching: Wannes Gyselinck — Technical direction & Sound: Brecht Beuselinck — Light design: Thomas Vermaercke — Assistant director: Emma Meerschaert — Production & Diffusion: Caravan Production — Coproductin: C-Mine, KAAP, KC nona, KC Vooruit, STUK, Het Laatste Bedrijf — Residency support: workspacebrussels — Met steun van: de Vlaamse Overheid


10.01.2022 - 14.01.2022

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