“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” Matthew 5:5
Verily, I would rather be meek than have a Zoom meeting. That had been my stance during this last year of on and off lockdowns. Not that I had the other option. But, given the choice I would rather sweep and have a street, than have a respectable title that comes with endless Zoom conferences indeed. Or so I thought until I saw Dance Across Borders initiative Perfect Imperfection.
Which was the first Zoom activity that I really liked. Probably because all involved, but me, were proper artists for one; and for two, because all involved were active participants, while I was in my most preferred role, this of a professional audience. With the word “professional” describing my skill and dedication; not the fact that, as usual, I am paid not. The idea of the project was to reassemble - on Zoom, where else? - an international group of dancers that met at a workshop in Gothenburg, Sweden twenty years ago.
The theme being „Perfect Imperfection“ worked perfectly for both the weird times and the even weirder medium Zoom. Then, when the week of rehearsals was over and when the teams were ready, I was invited to the ... Zoomshow, as a solo-audience. And I loved every minute of it, mostly because after a year of Zoom-struggle with: job interviews - failures; birthday parties - hangovers; catch ups - boredom; I enjoyed what I love best - to simply be audience at an art show.
The pieces of the two groups were very different: „Perfect Imperfection - the Metronome“ with the participants : Lars Persson, Gun Lund, Gerda König and Iwona Olszowska included classical means: metronomе, props like furniture and physical dance.
With Zoom, being used only as a medium to synchronize the three acts performed at three different places in real time. And while the concept was very attractive: the juxtaposition of “perfection” expressed by the time-measurement of the metronome with the “imperfection” of the environment: one of the legs of the table was shorter, so the other legs had to be cut in turn, but the length was never right and a balance was never achieved, until eventually all the four legs were chopped off, and the performer ended up eating his soup from a table bored laid on the floor. The imperfection of the “human condition”, with one of the screens showing the perfectly imperfect feet of a dancer with the typical horrific bunions, of the likes of which I am suffering myself.
The clear and clever concept of Metronome; as well as the sterile perfection of the three acts coordinated on Zoom had the invigorating effect of ... I would say.... a speed stimulant on me.... obviously, with all the imperfections that even the best speed stimulants have: it left me with a pronounced feeling of emptiness, a general sense of dissatisfaction and pronounced hunger for more.
And more there was indeed in the performance of the 2nd group and their so called piece “The Trip”. The second presentation was colorful, pleasant and long - which is exactly what one wants from a psychedelic trip. But above all - it ended up in the house of Galina Borissova - which is exactly where one would like all one's psychedelic trips to end. Galina, also known as the Mother of the Contemporary Dance in Bulgaria, lives in New Iskar - not to be confused with the sparkle wine brand Iskra, but the river Iskar, passing nearby her house - has a lovely garden full of lavender, jasmines, roses and cherry trees and a big house full of paintings - all from exhibitions that have taken place at Etud Gallery, the only art gallery in Sofia dedicated to dance - by the way, I haven't seen an art gallery dedicated to dance anywhere else. I am not saying that there isn't in London or Paris, but merely that I haven't seen one.
Anyhow “The Trip” had plenty of dance and collage improvisation from the participants, and as I realised in the last few minutes of the show - loose structure to bringing the four - a Bulgarian in New Iskar (Galina Borissova), an American (Susan Osberg) in New York and a Slovenian and a German in Dresden (Gregor Kamnikar and Valentina Čabro) - in the same timespacepot thanks to some Zoom-effects put in action. And I loved it. After some - pretended - technical glitches and a lot of mental tripping the company gathered into a virtual New Iskar. Regardless of the ways and means of arrival - some got a private jet from the door of their studio in Dresden, others drove a bicycle from New York - the three travellers ended up drinking from the perfectly distilled by monks at the nearby monastery in New Iskar, rakia, au de vie, while Galina went missing, working on a new dance project.
As everything else in this world, Zoom is at it's best when used by artists. Having written all that and having even praised Zoom I have to conclude: I can’t wait to see you live and in person people.
Perfect Imperfection aka Zoomology took place on Sunday, 7th of March, 2021 early GMT afternoon