Home and all alone, I must admit seeing Solitude on the last day before the second lockdown started did add a new dimension to Mario Schröder’s latest production. Those of us who live alone, finding ourselves on our own once again with very little human contact other than through a screen, know the feeling all too well.
Solitude is Mario’s most personal and relatable work to date.
While his works are often biographical in nature, this time his inspiration comes from our collective situation. The person he is speaking about is each of us, himself included. In the language we recognize from Leipzig Ballet, the set is minimal. The grid on the stage is more than a way of marking space. It is a symbol of restriction. Mario had to reinvent his dance vocabulary. Think about it.
How does a choreographer realize what’s in his head in a rehearsal studio where dancers have to social distance?
When dancers came back from the first lockdown they had squares they had to stay in, in order to be far enough away from each other. They couldn’t all fit in the studio at the same time. It was a logistical challenge to say the least. But for Mario, I can imagine it was like giving a water color artist a computer. What emerged was an intense, divided landscape of emotions set to a wide selection of moving music by some old favorites like Vivaldi and Bach and some new, soon to be favs, Peteris Vasks, and Galina Ustwolskaja.
We open to the whole company in a close-knit group, only they have to be protected from each other. They are in full protective gear. I usually know who they all are. I was actively trying to recognize them by the movement of their bodies. I am still not sure if I was right or not. Isn’t this a bit like what we are experiencing on a daily basis? I often see people on the street or in a shop and I’m not sure if it’s them or not.
Just like the rest of us, at some point they had to breathe. This they did in their cells. They had air, and yet were still not free. Was it solitude or solitary confinement?
Please don’t touch!
Fighting the urge to hug is one of the reasons I just don’t go out, even after lockdown eased up. It feels so wrong. Not touching is even crazier when you apply it to dance. It leaves me kind of breathless thinking about it to be honest. No lifts. No intricate partner work. NO TRUST.
Mario was able to get around this one by letting dancers who sheltered together do pair work. This led to some interesting combinations. I was fascinated at the perfection of the synchronicity of Marcos Vinicius da Silva and David Iglesias Gonzalez. I wondered if they had spent countless hours long after rehearsals had finished or if they just finish each other’s sentences. It was a pleasure to watch. Carl Van Godtsenhoven and Diana Sandu were able to convey a level of trust that made it look easy.
This brings to mind questions for the future. Will you need to be in a relationship to dance together? Will high risk group people like me have to stay home forever? Will they take some of the seats out of the theatre or move performances to the outdoor areas? Will we live our lives in plastic bubbles?
Unfortunately, I think that was the last performance of Solitude. Who knows? Perhaps it will make sense for a while to come. It may take a while to rid ourselves of this virus. I hope we are able to use these challenges to create new ways of seeing.