TQW Magazin
Andrea Amort on Come Out by Olivier Dubois & BODHI PROJECT

Resistance! What a world . . .


Resistance! What a world . . .

The dance piece Come out based on a work by Steve Reich, choreographed by Olivier Dubois for Susan Quinn’s BODHI PROJECT dance company, becomes a not-at-all abstract measure of comparison for associations regarding the dramatic geopolitical situation in light of its Viennese premiere at Tanzquartier.

An almost square area on a light-coloured floor in Hall G at MuseumsQuartier. On it, 21 dancers in full bodysuits with a zipper at the back, shoeless, in one and the same posture, bent forward, tense and ready, at a slight angle. Precisely positioned like pieces on a playing field. For an instant, images from Maurice Béjart’s enduring interpretation of Le Sacre du printemps with his Ballet du XXe siècle from 1959 spring to mind. Not so far removed from Olivier Dubois’ dance piece, originally developed for the Ballet de Lorraine, to Steve Reich’s composition Come out (1966), which is only 13 minutes long and full of repetition, phase shifting and reduction, but heightens the shaped story arc in the almost endless repetitive loop montaged by Dubois and François Caffenne to around 50 minutes.

One or more voices: “Come out to show them, come out to show them, come out to show them…” Reich reacted to a then recent incident of US American racist police misconduct. After receiving witness statements recorded on tape, he created a musical, political collage at an activist’s request. From the ten-hour material, the end of the sentence cited above became central for Reich.

A dancer straightens herself up in the middle of the stage and starts a bashing movement that seems to be beaten out of the upper body, followed by the arms. One after another, other performers follow. This remains the central gesture of the gradually unfolding and changing choreography. With variations.

Initially, the action unfolds in an ostensibly abstract and anonymous manner. With the impetus of acoustic compacting and contracting, however, much faster than can be described, the repetitions take the spectators’ minds to realities and emotional worlds that are being transported around the globe by the media.

No, this time it isn’t primarily Putin’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine. It’s the attack on Israel a few days ago by Hamas, classified as a terrorist organisation and financed in the Middle East with incredibly large sums of money. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues in the form of a new war. The more reports emerge about the atrocities committed in Israel against at least 1,300 people (as at 14 October 2023), amounting to a pogrom, the more sickening the beast in people that follows fascist ideologies of power strikes us to be. “All of us are Israel” is the spirit of what German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on her visit to Israel to show solidarity and support. Hamas is to be banned in Germany. According to the media, Germany and Austria have a special responsibility towards Israel. Yes, of course. And the frequently mentioned two-state solution with Palestine must be achieved. Because in the “outdoor prison”, as former Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik described the living conditions of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, the next calamity is looming with the ground offensive announced by Israel.

The thoughts are moving on, and the action on stage shifts. Individual performers stand out, varying the basic movement only to resume it again and again, increasing their efforts in the process. Then, at last, a lunge. The right arm moves forward ‒ so much power, so much rhythm-fuelled power. The rest is interpretation and a matter of opinion: Is this someone fighting for or against someone else? The dancers become a tangle, a tangle of bodies, an apparent mess. All of a sudden, there are two of them, one lifting the other…

Dubois calls his powerful choreography an allegory of our struggles. Yes, you could call the evening at Tanzquartier that. Lots and lots of applause for the determined dancers of the SEAD Academy from Salzburg.

Close by, the Federal Chancellery has hoisted the Israeli flag. On Ö1 public radio, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg speaks again about the scenario of a two-state solution, which seems illusory at the moment, but will be necessary at some point. The next segment of the lunchtime radio news programme Mittagsjournal concerns the sheer mass of fake news and hate-speech posts concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which are allegedly being deleted e.g. on X (formerly Twitter)…


Andrea Amort has been associated with the Austrian dance scene for many years as a critic, dramaturge and curator. Most recently: Alles tanzt. Kosmos Wiener Tanzmoderne (exhibition, publication, 2019), and extensive performance programme at Theatermuseum Wien. Current research project: a reappraisal of the international Hellerau-Laxenburg educational institution (1925–1939).