When you think of contemporary dance and performance, building tables is not something you expect to be part of the programme. Or perhaps you do. After all, the image most of us carry from pop culture about contemporary dance and performance is that it is generally obscure, unpredictable and difficult to understand. But the idea behind the opening act of TransDance is simple enough: whether you are a professional dancer or whether the extent of your information on the subject comes from a random viewing of Pina, this performance wants to you to join in.
The TransDance Festival for Contemporary Dance, Choreography and Performance will open with a performance by Igor Dobricic, titled Table Talks. A visiting professor of concept development at the School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam, Dobricic’s idea is based on collaboration in the form of building an actual table with the artist, intended to facilitate dialogue between the artist and his audience. The performance is one of Dobricic’s most famous and is an intimate experience where the artist shares his process, something unique and personal, with the audience.
The festival focuses on the theme of bodies as physical documents and in this particular performance the artist will stay as long as needed to finish the table with different members of the audience (who can come and go as they please). The table becomes the centerpiece, transforming the space from construction site to a topic of discussion in itself and eventually to a dining table.
The organisers say the idea is that the table then becomes, “a document to an artistic thinking process, strategies of communication and of being together within a dramaturgy of an invitation,” in line with the wider theme of the festival.
There is a possible scenario where the artist and the audience fail to construct the table or serve dinner, but the emphasis remains on the building and collaborative aspect of the performance, as Dobricic said in a letter to the invited guests via Facebook. The guests are encouraged to bring their own tools and materials, since Dobricic will not be providing any.
Dobricic said that the performance questioned the idea of who was the performer and who was the audience, since everyone is invited to partake with him. “It is important to challenge these notions of who is the spectator and who is the agent, that is, the one who actually does something. In this performance this relationship is up to the audience, there may be some who only watch, thus turning themselves into spectators, or if they all watch, then I alone become the performer or the artist. But it is up to the dynamics of the audience and it is not through any choice of my own which makes it much more compelling to see.”
Dobricic added that the most important things about the performance are the process of collaboration and the document it leaves behind. “It does not matter whether the table is realised or not, the remains of the table or the table itself is the document of our collaboration. The table will stay after we are gone and it is proof that people took part in this act of creation.”
The performance will take place in Cimatheque tonight 4 October at 6 pm and is open to the public at no charge.