THE VERY MOMENT // Der Standard
Anna Konjetzky shows expert loss of control at the edge of dance
Der Standard, 23.06.2019 // Author: Helmut Ploebst
The dancers push the envelope of their physical potential; here the Sommerszene Salzburg presented an absolute showpiece.
YouTube is a purgatory in which many an unlucky duck is barbequed in public. You can spend hours looking at spectacular accidents and delightful embarrassments, grand clumsiness or heartbreaking derailments. The German choreographer Anna Konjetzky did this and let it sink in. The result is a piece that has been bathed in dark irony: The Very Moment. It belongs to the highlights of this year’s Sommerszene festival, here in a cooperation with the Arge Kultur Salzburg. In a perfect collaboration, Konjetzky’s five quite individual dancers show the true connection between the eternal antipodes dance and accident: the former is often a triumph of physical coordination and the latter is usually the result of a loss of control. But the dynamics of choreography have an influence on both. Dancers repeatedly exhaust the possibilities of their virtuoso bodies – up to the edge of catastrophe. This is what they get the most applause for. However, the movement patterns of a stumbling drunk can be similarly impressive. And the choreographic spirit is more likely to be provided by Jim Beam, Gösser or Jägermeister.
Enthusiastic people like to film this kind of thing and then upload it to YouTube. Especially when staggering turns into a fall without getting up again. Each of these contributions gives us some insight into the personality of the respective uploader. And the feelings elicited by watching them tells us something about human nature. It isn’t the simple craving for disaster, as Konjetzky emphasizes. Instead, the authentic appeal of the decisive point of no return – The Very Moment – is what produces plenty of neurotransmitters in the observer’s body. YouTube material that has been reworked for the piece demonstrates the construction of this special kind of suspense. These are motifs that we know from slapstick or comedic films. Their fictional disasters have become so perfectly anchored in our cultural memory that the consumers of realistic video clips may be aware of the difference, but their (brains’) backrooms close themselves off from this knowledge. And this is why the majority can bathe in the build-up of suspense without reserve and enjoy the release of this suspense in the moment of the event: possibly all the more, the greater the discrepancy is.
Contradiction of fiction and reality
YouTube thus contributes to the process of turning reality into fiction, just like, in contrast, dance – just like all performance arts – can present fiction as a reality. Anna Konjetzky’s dancers play with these contradictions in an almost glorious unaffected way. Without shame, but quite sovereign, they imitate the loss of control from the depths of daily life as an inspiration to dance. But more – they laugh at the fetish of virtuosity that is often and too quickly paid homage to. Not just in dance, but also in our performance-oriented society.