Pieter T'Jonck
Beyond performance

While still in her dance training in P.A.R.T.S., the Danish Mette Ingvartsen made her well-noticed entrance in the dance scene with short pieces like Manual Focus (2003). With her candid views she manages to breathe new life into threadbare themes like ‘the moving body’. The same goes for To Come, the piece she presented on Klapstuk 2005.

There is no doubt about it: as the title suggests, To Come is all about carnal lust. The matter is brought up in three well distinguished parts. As the audience comes in, five figures pose in light blue, fitting suits, without as much as a muscle moving. Not only their identity is taken away by the suits, but also the gender differences. Nothing remains but sharp body silhouettes.

For the 32 following minutes of the first part, these five dolls take in all kinds of (often explicit) postures. They don’t simulate anything, the movements aren’t imitations of intercourse, they are merely a catalogue of all kinds of mutual contact one can come up with in the given circumstances. The effect is fairly alienating. The ‘dance’ indeed strongly resembles the soft porn that permeates our visual culture, but it doesn’t ‘glue’ the observer in the same way: the well-known suggestive gazes, details of body parts and hot music are lacking. So the observer has to fill in the imagery himself.

That is why the suits are blue in the first place: they serve as the ‘blue key’ that in filmmaking permits another image to be projected into the blue spots. The suits as it were invite the spectator to derive pleasure from the mechanics of the bodies present here and now, instead of clinging to the question of what they represent – and what therefore is not present.

In the second scene no doubt is left at all about the blue key principle. the dancers appear in casual clothing, while against the backdrop a blue screen is erected. Like a choir dubbing a movie, the dancers bring an impressive groan-and-pant concert. This is the audiotape that was missing in the first part, but as now the imagery is taken out, your attention again slips away toward the presentation of the sound. The principle of the piece is becoming clear: recognition, followed by alienation, followed by a new enjoyment of what happens ‘an sich’.

The third part of this piece is the subtlest part. The performers dance their guts out on infectious swing music: dashing but also with a tad of chaos that makes the dance seem like a spontaneous party. Here one spots the choreographer’s true hand, as it is far more difficult to reach this ‘natural’ spontaneity than to perform ‘really well’. But here too the matter is thorny: even though the music at once fades out completely and suddenly returns full blast, the dancers continue swinging imperturbably. Thus once again the moving body itself, as an object with its own enticements, becomes the central element.

– Pieter T’Jonck, De Tijd, 2 November 2005