Ivo says, ” you know I was very suspicious about its qualities and I will still be…”. Though not in the hour or so at Halle of Som Faves. Suspicion then is maybe a place to begin.
Sitting in the front row, I look up as people are coming in, also thinking the theatre hall would be a nice place to play, realising also it is where Toula Limniaos rehearses. I’ve been meaning to come for class here for a long time. Looking up then, I see someone who I think I know. It takes me a while to identify him, handlebar mustache, Luke George, from Melbourne in Berlin standing in front of me. Antony Hamilton next to him. After the show I find Amelia McQueen, last seen in Adelaide. As Dy said, “I seem to know a lot of Australians at the moment.”
The stage is white. Floor and back wall, a desk placed center at the rear with small synthesiser on it, a painting on the wall, amateur-ish, two women, a blue dress and yellow headscarf. A white ceramic cat beneath, but a little further away from the wall. A chair also. Bright light. Nowhere to hide. A solo, I am thinking, is a difficult thing. (Thinking because making.)
Do you make a living from your dance? Yes. How long for? Two years now. How do you do it? You make a solo, it gets performed, maybe picked up by a theater, you tour. Uhh… I’ve never made a solo, what do you make a solo about?, I’d have nothing to say. It doesn’t matter, you just make it. Will you make a solo for me, Ivo? He laughs. We drive to Haus der Berliner Festspiele and fall asleep. East. West.
He walks on tense, fast, angry. There is blood on your face, I can see it. Light blue shirt buttoned up, black trousers. For a moment I’m not sure I believe him, suspicious, as we were saying. His voice is convincing, but his body hasn’t quite arrived.
Later… Bloody red dogs, behind the people, near or far? It doesn’t matter.
Later again. I am in Kreuzberg, visiting Barbara from Toronto, last seen in Vienna last summer. I met Ivo there, we rehearsed near where we lived, at WUK. Her friend also saw Ivo, the first night. Many people left she said, and somehow this made what perhaps, if there was a theme above the programme notes, more pertinent, close, alive.
He sings. He has a beautiful voice, contralto. In Vienna, he sung while climbing trees near Arsenal. He asks who thinks this is choreography? Who thinks it is singing. We must hold up our hands. I think it is singing, because, well, he is singing. Is it choreography also? Is it dance? Not an asinine question of What Is Art? He says it doesn’t matter. He shows some choreography. 32 gestures, hand and arms. 32 fouettés en tournant. When his blonde ratty wig comes off some people gasp, some make disgusted, revolted noises. He wears a football shirt, black and red, stomps and jumps around, closer to choreography perhaps. He says his voice gives the appearance of professionalism, and we are taken in by that.
Yesterday, I was thinking of repetition. He repeats. There is blood on your face. Bloody red dogs, behind the people, If you want me to be your mother. It reminds me then of Pina, repetition until it becomes something. Except repetition has become, or perhaps always was, a method of engendering meaning on inscrutable movement. Repeat enough until it gives the impression you’re saying something very deep. Very meaningful. Do you understand how important what I am doing is?
I wonder for a moment then, if Ivo falls into this. He speaks with a microphone, reciting the lyrics of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” I find this is the video on Tanz Im August’s website. For me this section had no meaning, and doubly, showed itself as a section. despite being possible to mark discrete parts in Som Faves, it was not so delineated as to be a series of vignettes. Repetition as leitmotif perhaps. At the end though, when the chorus became a dog-like grown and his wig slid off, rubbing his nipple, breastfeeding or wanking, here he pulled that previous scene into the work. Also to say, here he showed a sophistication of assembling a performance, wherein the passage from one part to the next reinscribes meaning on the previous part. This, I think is choreography, and Ivo affects me in this as few ever do, utterly beguiling and captivating. I am smiling with delight. Still though, it could have been any song.
Perhaps it was one of the faves. A list of 100 subjects, the festival producers can pick, rearrange, and so make the performance. And its meaning.
He sings more, moves, dances, speaks, plays on the keyboard, the audience laughs a lot. He though, I think, is not ironic. It is not a performance in inverted commas, it is not afraid to say exactly this and risk being ridiculous or failing. He becomes convincing after the first few seconds, he holds us, not because we laugh, but because he does not hide.
He plays on the keyboard. Four photos, wedged between lips and wig, a leprotic face it makes, his bottom lip undulating as he speaks. His boyfriend, returned to Bulgaria because of no work. Ended. His new boyfriend. Other things from this… I mean to say, when a personal, autobiographical work is made, it is implicit. Those who are party to the personal relationship interpret the meaning through to their privileged position, a different reading from being solely an audience.
He brings out a mirror, tells us to be calm. His body, after the first few minutes is drenched in sweat, glistens, runs, wets him entirely almost an hour of this soaking. When he cuts his eyebrows with a scalpel, the blood runs in a slick torrent, through eyes, cheeks, lips, into his mouth and teeth, neck, torso and stomach. Again noises of horror from the audience. He says again, “Keep calm”. We obey because of his voice. His sings again, beautiful contralto, shaved head, whiteness of the stage and his skin, beautiful, barbaric, blood, a monster, enchanting and terrifying. I am of course utterly in love. “There’s blood on your face…”