Dark Field Analysis
Two men meet; they dance, they sing. Men or machines? The choreographer Jefta van Dinther creates a world of shadowy beauty.
Two naked beings in conversation. Men or machines? Body doubles, lovers or strangers? Surrounded on all sides by spectators, the two restless bodies fidget and squirm, complement and transform each other. The choreographer Jefta van Dinther creates a world of shadowy beauty, a mysterious alloy of textures and sounds, colours and movements. Prelude to a new organism.
Dark Field Analysis takes its name from a branch of alternative medicine that uses dark field microscopy to diagnose systemic bodily conditions originating in the blood. Here blood serves as an analogy for looking inwards, into and beyond ourselves. In this poignantly profound intellectual thriller, Jefta van Dinther holds up a mirror that peers into the inscrutable depths of the soul, evoking humanity confronted with artificial intelligence. The lighting magnifies the sculptural forms, disconcerting music invades the space, speech becomes a chant. Our bodies vibrate, our senses are bombarded, the piece becomes a potent psychoactive substance. A licit drug.
Produced by Jefta van Dinther
Choreographed and directed by Jefta van Dinther
Created and performed by Juan Pablo Cámara + Roger Sala Reyner
Lighting Design Minna Tiikkainen
Set Design Cristina Nyffeler
Sound Design David Kiers
Text Jefta van Dinther + Juan Pablo Camara + Roger Sala Reyner
Songs based on The Slow Drug and Horses in my Dreams by PJ Harvey
Choreographer Assistant Thiago Granato
Artistic Advice Gabriel Smeets + Felix Bethge
Technical Coordination Bennert Vancottem
Art Direction Martin Falck
Management Emelie Bergbohm
Production management Annie Kay Schachtel + Ellika Lindström
Distribution Key Performance
Administration Interim kultur AB (svb)
Co-produced by Tanz im August & HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin) + Tanzquartier (Vienna) + Sadler’s Wells (London) + PACT Zollverein (Essen) + Centro Cultural Vila Flor (Guimarães) + Dansens Hus (Oslo)
Funded by Swedish Arts Council + City of Stockholm + Nationales Performance Netz Co-production Fund for Dance (Munich)
With the support of O Espaço do Tempo (Montemor-o-Novo) + Kunstencentrum BUDA (Kortrijk) + Riksteatern – The Swedish National Touring Theatre (Stockholm)
Presented in association with Centre PHI + Théâtre Prospero
Written by Diane Jean
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Premiered at Tanz im August, Berlin, on August 24, 2017
Jefta van Dinther (Stockholm + Berlin)
The Dutch-Swedish dancer and choreographer Jefta van Dinther captivates audiences with his extraordinary compositions of experiential structures.
In collaboration with lighting designer Minna Tiikkainen and the sound designer David Kiers, he turns spectators’ perceptions topsy-turvy, crafting his choreographies as journeys where images of frenzied bodies submit to pulsating rhythms and colours that intensify their presence. Initially a dancer, he has performed solo works and danced for companies and choreographers like Xavier Le Roy and Mette Ingvartsen, with whom he created It’s in the air, a work performed on a trampoline.
As a choreographer he is mainly interested in the technological amplification of the dancing body and the potentially intense synaesthesia of the audience-performance relationship. His works include Kneeding in 2010, Grind and The Blanket Dance in 2011, This Is Concrete in 2012 and As It Empties Out in 2014. Alternating between small, intimate spaces and big stages, he created Plateau Effect for Cullberg Ballet in Sweden, for which he received the Swedish Theatre Critics Dance Prize in 2013.
His piece Protagonist that premiered in Amsterdam in 2016, has also been presented at Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris, and he choreographed and performed in the music video for Röyksopp & Robyn’s hit song Monument. Between 2012 and 2014 he was appointed director of the choreography degree program at the University of Dance and Circus in Stockholm. He divides his time between Stockholm and Berlin.
The title Dark Field Analysis refers to a method of analyzing blood samples. You are influenced by the notion of “extimity”, the desire to render visible certain aspects of the self previously deemed too intimate.
The German word unheimlich means uncanny or weird, the “disconcerting strangeness” of the inner self, of what remains hidden. I often work with that concept in mind. Dark Field Analysis refers to a method of blood analysis used in alternative medicine. Whereas blood is usually analyzed in a laboratory, in dark field analysis the blood sample is immediately placed under a microscope, in order to examine it while still alive. With this method you can see the living blood, the activity of the corpuscles, of bacteria. I’ve peered down such a microscope, taking that dive into the inner body. It was strange way of plunging into my anatomy, of looking at myself, extracting part of myself for detailed observation, like enlarging or getting closer to a very intimate part of oneself. I wanted this performance to be like sitting down together in a lab, in a human anatomy lab.
I was also fascinated by the strong feelings experienced when meeting someone for the first time: that suppressed intensity during moments of conversation. What happens when you meet someone and start talking to that person and an actual exchange takes place? When the content of that exchange is not very unique, when it is maybe even mundane. But when the experience in hindsight, on the other hand, can prove to be quite profound. I wanted to find a way to stage that. Lately I’ve made a number of large-scale shows, and choreographed two pieces with the Cullberg Ballet in Sweden. I felt the need to get closer again, to zoom in. This performance demands that, a peering through a microscope.
Your biography states: “He can turn space, sound, light and bodies into performative drugs.” Is that a desired effect?
My performances are not based on a collective experience. I am not particularly interested in the aspect of watching a show together. What interests me is each individual experiencing something remarkable, involving bodies, sound, lighting, materials. Dark Field Analysis starts off as a collective experience, but as the performance progresses, it is transformed. Two men are seated on a rug, naked, in a state that appears to be calm and relaxed. They philosophize in an elementary fashion, they are not professional thinkers. Emotions emanate from them, but especially from the structure of the piece: the sound, the lighting, the cinematic aspect. A certain melancholy takes shape, generated by the music and the beauty of the images. There is also something harrowing about the piece, linked maybe to the idea of transformation. At the end, we no longer know where we are. In the machine perhaps?
You create a space of body, sound and light where the spectator feels free to experience a series of sensations. How do you direct that experience?
I am very much interested in potential stories that might arise from what is presented on stage, what people project onto what they see. At the beginning of the performance one of the men asks the other: What is your first memory?
That question gets some spectators deeply involved. They ask themselves that very question; they remember their oldest childhood memories. Other spectators remain destabilized until one of the actors starts to sing, which opens up a new dimension in the piece. From that very point of departure, of two individuals engaged in conversation, each curious about the other and trying to get under the other’s skin, people in the audience take very different journeys.
To me, one issue is of utmost importance, the question of human and post-human, the organic and the synthetic. At a certain moment both characters reach a point of convergence, become a single organism. The performance talks about what makes us human, how we differentiate ourselves from things and other beings. In our highly technological society we cannot any longer consider ourselves separate from advances of other forms of life.
We might imagine ourselves unaffected by such changes, but what is no longer possible is to ignore them. There is already plastic in our organism. I do not think that Dark Field Analysis is a glorification on humanity, but rather a performance about the complexity of living in the world, in conscious relation with the animal, with desire, with instinct and technology.
“Dark Field Analysis is uncompromisingly tender and hard-melted – a mental thriller about our existence.”
Anna Ångström, Svenska Dagbladet, 2017-10-25
“Strangely beautiful and transfixing.”
Sarah Crompton, The Telegraph, 2014-11-14, à propos de Plateau Effect
“An astonishing work of movement and art”
Ruth Mattock, Culture Whisper, 2014-11-13, à propos de Plateau Effect
“I could have watched them all night; it felt so joyfully liberating I wanted to join in.”
Siobhan Murphy, LondonDance.com, 2014-11-17, à propos de Plateau Effect