My encounters: Group Works #5

The first performance presented was Alice Chauchat’s Togethering, a Group Solo. In the program, the festival introduced the performance in the following way: “This year we challenge our own materialist dogmatism when choreographer Alice Chauchat performs Togethering, a Group Solo: first of all, a solo in a group-festival!. In her artistic practice, Alice Chauchat has developed collaborative structures that have played an important role in the discourse of artists creating collaborative and sustainable working conditions for themselves. In ”Togethering, a Group Solo” the textual material Alice Chauchat uses reflects her 15 year of experience with different forms of collaboration. The material is presented in a conceptual frame that emphasises the fact that she, the performer, and we, the audience, are to share the roles of the performance.

The visuals on stage are kept to a bare minimum. It is Alice Chauchat, her pair of shoes and a small card box containing poetic instructions for the dance material she shares with us during her performance. As she proclaims, “I dance to keep myself company. The people watches the dance also keeps company”.

The take on group work that Alice Chauchat presents to us is sympathetic. It is about sharing. In the program, Alice Chauchat writes “While remaining in their formal territories (spectators watching, dancer dancing), performer and audience share roles: assistant, companion, collaborator or host, as protagonists of the theatrical event”. When watching the performance, I once again wonder whether this proposal of sharing the same roles in an aesthetic work is at all possible since there is a maker and a taker? And does the artist create a bigger sense of togetherness between the audience, the performer and the performance by speaking out her intentions and conceptual framework or wouldn’t an aesthetic performance automatically create togetherness if it engaged its’ audience? Isn’t togetherness also one of the basic conditions of stage art?

There is of course different forms of togetherness and as an artist you create the conditions for the one you are interested in. The black box is, however, a hierarchical space which means that not all types of togetherness can exist in this room. Alice Chauchat proposal of sharing roles is theoretically appealing but as a theatre experience it leaves me unengaged. Personally, I would have preferred to meet her thoughts and experiences with collaboration in another fora than the black box. A fora that is actually open for the kind of togetherness she aims at.

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