by Sylvian Verstricht
"No fanfare at Tangente this week. Fuck being submerged in a dark room, fuck seductive melodious music, fuck the ceremony that is usually the dance show. All that’s left of it is for us to walk in the room and sit in a chair, waiting for something to happen. The bright stage lights are already on and they don’t go down before Dinozord (dancer Patrick Mbungu) walks over to centre stage from the audience. No big costume either: a grey t-shirt, exercise pants, and sneakers.Appropriate for the second week (of three) of Tangente’s Idea-Based Dances program, inspired by two movements with similar roots. The first emerged during the 60s with the Judson Dance Theater in New York City, which marked the beginnings of post-modern dance. Their source of inspiration: conceptual art. The second arose in France in the mid-90s with a new generation of choreographers that abandoned movement to integrate other art forms into their practice, thereby creating “non-dance.”
But Dinozord definitely dances in Ula Sickle’s Solid Gold. In fact, he covers the entire spectrum of dance from the African diaspora, from its roots to street dance styles performed in Congo today, passing through 20s Harlem, Broadway, the New York street dance scene of the 70s and 80s, and the more recent styles coming out of Los Angeles, like Krump. All of this in 30 minutes.
What makes this dance history lesson that much more compelling, however, is Sickle’s sound choice: no pop music. In fact, no music at all, in the strictest sense of the term. Again, very much in keeping with the practices of the Judson Dance Theater. Instead, what we get is the amplified sound from four microphones taped to the floor all around the stage, and (as we discover later) one right underneath Dinozord’s nostrils. His breath first sounds like a pen scribbling on a piece of paper. It is his, yet disembodied, marking the presence of two entities onstage: the physical and the electronic bodies.We also hear his footsteps. Everything about Solid Gold highlights its own being. Like much of the work that emerged from Judson, it does not attempt to stand for something other than itself; it is what it is. As Dinozord’s breathing becomes heavier as his body proportionally drips with sweat, it becomes clear that Solid Gold is about its own physicality rather than an attempt to seduce us with pleasing aesthetics. If the body is anything other than itself, it is (as many of the dances displayed here prove) a political tool . .