Sounds and Movements Flex Staccato
Carolina Bergonzoni and Luciana D'Anunciação's new performance inflates Pandora Park Fieldhouse
Written by Alexandra Bischoff
Photos and gifs by Ash Tanasiychuk
An empty house (full of air) is the first public performance hosted by Dance Troupe Practice at Pandora Park Fieldhouse. It runs for only three days between April 17-19, 2015. The audience is asked to wait outside prior to the performance—it is a beautiful spring evening, so nobody minds. Pandora Park is still bustling with children at 6:45pm, and the sun is just beginning to descend over the tall buildings of downtown Vancouver. A little girl sits on top of a dark turquoise slide and watches the boys take turns jumping off the swings. Someone has forgotten their shoes in the sand.
When Carolina Bergonzoni and Luciana D’Anunciação are ready, the intimate group of eight spectators gather around the open door of the Fieldhouse and peer inside. No one can see anything at first. Collective curiosity peels through the small space the doorframe can offer, scanning across the kitchen and counting the doors and windows, fixating on the closet facing the Fieldhouse threshold. It is a modest interior and you can see from end to end without strain. A small, dead moth rests on the grass-woven doormat; its tissue-paper wings minutely flutter in the breeze. Suddenly, the closet doors begin to move.
A few of the onlookers audibly gasp. The sound of plastic aching, plastic rubbing, sets the stage for near horror, as two wide eyes, vertically stacked, gaze past our eight pairs of shins. Clear, tubular plastic—full of air—emerges from the top of the closet door, pushing it open further. Sounds and movements flex staccato. Bergonzoni’s eyes look up and around, making contact as both the closeted figures becomes more visible. Bergonzoni occupies a shelf, air-filled plastic tucked behind her, while D’Anuciação stands in the hanging-half, pressing her body against her own inflated plastic. Suddenly, the struggle ensues.
Who could have imagined such oppression from two air-filled plastic bags? Almost pillow-like in dimension, one might think asphyxiation as the inspirational metaphor; the two performers seem caught in perpetual discomfort, shifting against and writhing in tandem with their air-filled plastic antagonists. Even eventually pushing against one another, Bergonzoni and D’Anunciação are suffocating in the empty space. POP! Abruptly, one announces to the other “you are my partner.” They each quickly retrieve an air-filled plastic bag from the top shelf of the closet, before tearing into two separate rooms with doors directly beside one another.
It is Caio Fernando Abreu’s text Diálogo demonstrated—two figures arguing in Portuguese about companionship as doors open and slam shut against air-filled plastic. The same existential, paranoia filled logic of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot propels the two figures’ arguments into confusion. Now seated inside the Fieldhouse, the audience can feel the air in the small space push and pull in waves after the two hurtling doors. POP! With quiet abruptness, Bergonzoni and D’Anunciação move into the kitchen to embrace upon a final declaration “that you are my partner.” Air-filled plastic become fragile dance partners, plucked from hiding in the kitchen appliances—and the squeaks of rubbing plastic searches for soft corners to echo against in the near silent Fieldhouse. Suddenly…
The struggle reprises. POP!
The breath of the performers, reciprocated by the audience, amplifies every sound within the space. So that plastic whining against skin, doorframes, linoleum, and the kitchen sink, makes us aware of the fridge fan, the clinking water pipes, and each other’s seated shifting. POP! With air-filled plastic tucked away in every orifice of the Fieldhouse, the performance could have gone on continuously (like the performers matching polka-dot pajamas). But their final embrace asserts the event is drawing to a close. The dead moth has been blown off the doormat, even though the wind feels still. And as the red sky surrounds the field house, and partnerships become reduced to breath and struggle, we all think about the suddenness of air.