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Renee E. D'Aoust
Performance Reviews
Chiasso, OT (Switzerland)

Nicole Seiler - Ningyo

by Renee E. D'Aoust
November 21, 2008
Chiasso, OT (Switzerland)
Chiassodanza / Chiasso Cultura
Cinema Teatro

The choreographer Nicole Seiler may be unfamiliar to American audiences, but I trust that will not be the case for long. "Ningyo" is amazing.

Compagnie Nicole Seiler, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, presented the evening-length "Ningyo" October 21 in Chiasso, Switzerland.

Seiler fearlessly breaks and twists conventions, expectations, even myths. Using video and choreography, she creates a new medium for performance. "Ningyo" makes us want to ask if we are watching a body, real, or a body, reel; we wonder if the solo dancer is a woman, human, or a mermaid, myth. The opportunity to experience this kind of theater is more important than our questions or answers.

Seiler astutely plays with the performance space itself, thus allowing us to create meaning out of the subconscious dream space we inhabit as we experience her work. Whether the daughter of a river god or a temptress to wanderers like Odysseus, the siren in Seiler's creation is always in charge of her own fate. Born out of darkness, she is beast, mermaid, goddess, or woman. She lives in and out of water.

Part of the stage is actually a pool of water. It is not deep, nor blue. The live DJ is on another part of the stage while Seiler exposes the rest of the space without adornment. Although video can strangely flatten the body, through Seiler's projected images at the back of the stage and straight down on the pool of water, video only enhances the body. Together with the dancer's actual performed movements, video means the body moves in multiple dimensions at once.

The solo dancer YoungSoon Cho Jaquet isolates movement so that it can look robotic, futuristic, yet she also slinks and flips and rolls as if she were an enormous, morphing sea creature, maybe a sea cucumber with a spine and arms and legs. Not quite harmless, perhaps, and totally captivating.

Both the dancer and the DJ contribute to the collaborative dialogue of the work. The siren song is thought to lead to death, but here death is a form of renewal, and the siren song is the music of DJ Letizia Renzini. The siren, or woman, returns to water, but later forms wings to follow Persephone, and the ultimate fate of those who listen and watch is not death, but freedom.

In Seiler's astutely-crafted and conceptually-based work, the penetrable line between dance and video contains how we receive, perceive, and interpret. What forms from the two is of greater impact than one alone. Seiler rivets the eye and makes the heart understand.

For more information about Compagnie Nicole Seiler, please see the web-site: www.nicoleseiler.com.

Renée E. D'Aoust's most recent publication is an essay in Robert Gottlieb's anthology "Reading Dance" (Pantheon Books).
Nicole Seiler's Ningyo

Nicole Seiler's Ningyo

Photo © & courtesy of Nicole Seiler

Nicole Seiler's Ningyo

Nicole Seiler's Ningyo

Photo © & courtesy of Nicole Seiler

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