Renate Keerd and Claire Croizé

'mobile home’ and ‘Blowing Up’

by Stuart Sweeney

August 18, 2003 -- Kanuti Gildi Saal, Augusti TantsuFestival 2003, Tallinn

Image of Renate Keerd by Imre Malva


Renate Keerd is one of the best known Estonian dance artists and several festivals around Europe presented her first piece, "Mystical Sounds in the Snoring Night". She has also won a Philip Morris dance award for  her work in 2002 and is one of only two local choreographers selected to perform in this year's Augusti TantsuFestival.

Her contribution "mobile home" is a two-hander for herself and Päär Pärenson, lasting 30 minutes and hot off the studio floor. Keerd's interest in theatre is reflected in the visual richness of the work, combining movement, slide projection, props and imaginative lighting by Eve Teras. The work opens with a solo from Pärenson at the back of the stage, between a corridor marked out by two rows of lights at floor level. He moves slowly and smoothly, starting bent over with hands and feet on the floor, and this theme of interchange between the four limbs runs through the piece. The languor and dim lighting gave me an impression of night and at one stage in a meditation position he rolls in circles using his back and his knees creating a memorable image.

The next section sees Pärenson interacting with slides of Estonian scenes frontally projected onto a screen at the back of the stage. He swims in a lake, peers into the windows of a house and so on. This suggests a journey or exploration and although it is good fun, one or two fewer slides may be better. There is also a good theatrical effect as Pärenson, head to the ground, blows a line of powder around the stage.

When he is joined by Keerd, they soon slip into boots, which have appeared onstage, but with Pärenson wearing his pair on his hands. This could have seemed a gimmick, but I found it visually intriguing as they explore shapes in an extended duet, with the boots acting as reference points. At one point Keerd throws herself on her partner with tenderness and need. The boots are abandoned for the final section and a poem relating to dance projected on the screen in sections, while the dancers perform. For the first time my attention wandered a little and perhaps this ending could be tightened.   A copy of the text of the poem would have helped. Overall I came away with a feeling of distinctive movement and eye-catching theatricality.

I had seen Claire Croizé's "Blowing-Up" in London earlier this year and it left me cold. However, in the faded beauty of the Kanuti Gildi Saal with its peeling, Soviet-blue paint and the high Gothic windows providing a back-drop, the work impressed me much more. Croizé studied at PARTS and Jonathan Burrows' collaborator Jan Ritsema assisted in the creation of this, Croizé's first dance solo. Ritsema’s main experience is as an actor and director and he only came to dance in his 50s. His own "non-dance" approach can be seen in "Blowing-Up" and this aesthetic seems more at home in the cutting edge, post-modern dance world of the Kanuti Gildi Saal, rather than in the context of the generally more conventional fare we see in the UK.

No one could accuse Croizé of lack of effort and the vigour of the movement sometimes made me wince for her neck and shoulders. The programme notes told us that, "She does not strive to create beautiful movements, but rather to find beauty in the absence of artistic perfection, technical precision and self-control." The irony is that the work shows her immense control as she wheels around the stage swinging wide first both arms and then singly. Certainly the effect is awkward rather than beautiful, emphasised when she draws on two dreary coats, the second smaller than the first, to cover her powerful dancer's body.

In one section of the 30-minute work she shakes her head, making her hair behave like an oscillating mop and in another she jack-knifes forward, swinging her arms across her body. In the final stages, some of the earlier choreography is revisited with the addition of a snappy jump step with one leg bent. Here Croizé also slows some of the movement and beautiful lines appear, as a contrast to the dynamic, but utilitarian motion we have seen before.

I was pleased to have the chance to revisit "Blowing-Up" and the experience reminded me that often it is the mood of the viewer or the ambiance of the surroundings that dictate our opinion of a work rather than its intrinsic properties.


Edited by Jeff.

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