Translation of a review of Steve Batts’ How to Watch Dancing by Julia Sima published in Romanian online magazine GARBO:
‘How to Watch Dancing’ with Stephen Batts
A middle-aged man is performing gracious movements on piano notes… As a spectator, you stare in awe. And then, this middle-aged man is having a discourse about dance, explaining with words our actual experience of perceiving his dancing.
‘How to Watch Dancing’ is a complex and intellectual one-man show performed by the choreographer Stephen Batts presented for the first time during the Contact Improvisation Festival in Bucharest.
‘How to Watch Dancing’ is a heartfelt philosophical performance about dance. I called it a ‘dialectic of dance’ and of dance practices, a show performed with so much grace which struck me and left me meditative for a long time after I saw the performance and participated at the workshop held by Stephen Batts, during the Festival.
Stephen Batts developed this concept of ‘poetic movement’ offering the necessary tools of perceiving dance. We all wonder – What is actually dance? What is a good dancing? Who owns the dance?
‘How to Watch Dancing’ is for everyone: for the contemporary dance spectators and for the dancers themselves because it answers to all those questions in an incredible way. It’s surprising to see the moment of a dance dissect with a surgical precision. And I remained with this impression that Stephen Batts is a dancer, a choreographer, a philosopher and also a ‘surgeon’. His show ‘How to Watch Dancing’ is doing the almost impossible act of dissecting the dancing moment in a poetical way. What are we looking for that is not a tangible shape, but a complex manifestation of a performative body, developed in time and space?
Contrary to the elusive ways of poetry… this show and the whole philosophy of dance developed by Batts, brings the so much needed clarity for the one concerned with dance as an experience. And surprisingly, the poetic feeling is kept during the actual dance: grace, sensitivity, connection and the usage of the performative space and time.
In a chaotic world who captured in its spider web the natural act of connecting with our bodies, this show became a symbolic space of reclaiming. Dance is ours! Dance belongs to the people. It’s not only the perfect shaped ballet dancer who owns the dance, it’s also the middle-aged man who owns the dance, it’s also the lady from the public who has the courage to accept the invitation and walk in to the stage, dance is ours, it belongs to everyone. But only if you understand how to express properly: ‘harmonic of skin, border, close, level two, border of level two and level one, level five… harmonic of skin… addressing level five, addressing level one’. In this way, ‘How to Watch Dancing’ is a show that teaches you the quality and the poetry of a performative movement. And when you understand, this is the real moment when you finally own dancing.
This dialectic of ‘poetic movement’ is, in fact, a whole theory about falling (again) in love with… dance!
By Julia Sima
How to Watch Dancing will be performed at Echo Echo Studios in Derry on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th March 2019 – click for further info and ticket details.
Thanks to bazar vizual for the image.