There are faint sounds offstage. A stringed instrument, a qanum. Its sparse vibrations dissipate, as the Luas rumbles above. And the dancer takes to the floor. He takes his time or rather he takes the time it takes to be downstage and be present with the audience.
He puts on boots and then he dances a ‘foot based’ dance. It looks like a looser version of Irish dancing but the knees can bend laterally and some shimmying’s involved. There is some pattern and apparent breakage. The dancer’s hands tend to be floating. It’s as if both arms are walking the body about. The head is helpless but for the eyes. The eyes are asking. That question is embodied in the action, in the time between action, in the spacing of things. The hands are raised, are raised and maintained, they refuse easy symbolism. They are arms raised in the air and two hands, with attendant fingers. They are there for us to see. That is important. The solemn tenor of the choreography seems dependent on us, the audience bearing witness.
There is a silence in the motion too. Not the absence of sound. But the presence of things that can’t be said or are unsayable. This is a show that needs to be seen, needs more than wants. However, it refrains from devolving to the formula of empty ritual. Its life is in its struggle to create a form that will hold the things that were held before. By honouring this pure impulse but simultaneously acknowledging the fragility of the act, we have a dance of beauty.
I almost forgot to mention the other dancers. No, I didn’t forget, it’s just that the roll call seems too obtrusive to the established mood. They are more a haunting presence having woven their selves into memory. Things may sometimes appear simple but ‘what we care about is not simple’. This care and deliberation is echoed in the lighting design. Altogether the gravitas and ambition are unified to offer a rare experience. We are the better for seeing it.
Martin for DRAFF
Displacement by Mithkal Alzghair runs on the Abbey Theatre's Peacock stage as part of the Dublin Dance Festival until 27th May.
Image: Laura Glesdorf
Posted: 27th May 2017