Latent Dance – four movements on an evening in three parts
A few months ago, I was invited by Christina Gillinger on behalf of Tanzquartier Wien to write a text for the TQW Magazin as a review of an event curated in collaboration with the Musikverein Wien, which took place on the 12th of March 2023.
This event seems to live within a plurality of curations. Firstly, as a co-curational project and first (of many?) collaboration(s) between the two institutions Musikverein and Tanzquartier; secondly, as part of the Musikverein’s Festival Beethovens Medizinlöffel; thirdly, as part of TQW’s general performance programme; and fourthly (probably not last and definitely not least), as part of TQW’s ongoing programme of Theory and Research.
The event comprised three distinct parts. A lecture by Graham St John in the TQW Studios entitled Meta-Liminal; the dance and music performance All Around created by Mette Ingvartsen and Will Guthrie in Hall G; and a concert by the Orchestre de Paris in the Großer Musikvereinssaal, directed by Klaus Mäkelä, premiering Im Entschwinden by Mark Andre and playing Gustav Mahler’s second symphony.
A poetic relation between cycles, arrows and dots. The cyclical of the loop, of the beat, of the bar, of the turn, of the obsession. The arrow-ical of the composition, of the crescendo, of the beginning-middle-and-end. Finally, the dot-ical of the programme booklet, of the seat, of the scream, of the Hörner (in F) in der Ferne. But also the hidden cycles, the hidden arrows, the hidden dots and also the hiding of cycles, of arrows, of dots. In other words, the choreography of, the fine-tuning of, the control of and the providing of stimuli to eyes and ears. Which arrows do you want me to see? Which cycles are you making plainly obvious and which cycles do I have to look for? Which dots can we take for granted? Can we (ever) take a dot for granted?
– […] I like this sound, for example, that’s what I’ve been able to remember. Always some resonances, some resonances. I love obsessive music. That’s why, when I listened to My Favorite Things by John Coltrane, it was the first time in my life that I heard a piece lasting nearly an entire vinyl side, with themes of obsession. […] So when I composed at my level, I made musics with obsessive tendencies […].
– Because they take you further?
– In the beginning, certainly. Being able to communicate with the rhythm […] teaches you to approach the music better. And then you feel again like making music, with melodies, with things. It happens progressively, I think. Coltrane went through this, John Coltrane went through this.
/ I made musics with obsessive tendencies
/ j’ai fait des musiques à tendances obsessionnelles
in french. so let’s take
/ les tendances
and (you’ll see why later) make it into
/ la tendance
which could be
/ l’attendant se
/ l’à temps dans ceux
/ la tendant ce
/ latent danse
and so, changing one letter to shift it from one language to another,
/ latent dance
My evening on Sunday, March 12th (which, at the time, was still so young I should say afternoon) started with Graham St John talking of the vibe and of liminal spaces. After watching the obsessive tendencies (in Christian Vander’s sense of the term) of Mette Ingvartsen and Will Guthrie and after listening to Mark Andre’s ever extending orchestral visions, my evening ended with Gustav Mahler’s second symphony, which happens to include a small Fernorchester in its fifth and final movement. Fernorchester stands for an orchestra in der Ferne, in the distance or, in other words, a group of musicians playing somewhere away from the audience. In this case, away was in the hallway or, for us in the audience (whose socio-sonic experiences were clearly focused on everything taking place in the Großer Musikvereinssaal at that moment), outside the room. In order to facilitate our acoustic experience, and remember, the devil is in the details, some doors had to be opened, kept very slightly ajar for the different lengths of the few passages played by said Fernorchester and finally closed again, shutting out any sounds of the outside world and ensuring the sonic integrity and concentration within the Großer Musikvereinssaal. I had the privilege of having one of these doors in my direct line of vision and I have to say, they were opened, kept ajar and shut with an attention close to the attention of the musicians as they were giving materiality to Mark Andre’s and Gustav Mahler’s sonic thoughts and desires, close to the attention Mette Ingvartsen and Will Guthrie put to their duet endeavours and close to the attention with which Graham St John shared his research on the vibe in electronic dance music culture.
What better way to bring an evening of such variety and contrast to a close than with, in the midst of Gustav Mahler’s epic and inexhaustible pushing of sonic boundaries, the gentle coming-to-life of its frame or, to borrow a term by Fred Moten and take it (slightly) out of context, the gentle coming-to-life of “the support that it cannot do without, or, more generally, [of] the outside that co-operates in its operation”?
And by gentle coming-to-life I mean its activation in a slow, slow dance, avec des mélodies, avec des choses, with melodies, with things.
 Christian Vander, drummer, singer, composer, founder and driving force behind the Franco-Kobaïan progressive-rock band Magma in conversation with an anonymous interviewer some time in the 1990s, transcribed and (crudely) translated by Samuel Feldhandler with the help of AI in March 2023.
 The context of the last chapter of his book In the Break.
Samuel Feldhandler writes dance and lives in Vienna. Growing up in a family of musicians, he was surrounded by musical forms that shaped his sensibility and attention long before he immersed himself in dance. Today, he passionately investigates ways of putting these familiar forms into play within a choreographic context. Samuel has been creating dance works since 2012. samuelfeldhandler.com