Musée de la danse at Tate Modern

A wonderfully innovative new collaboration transforms the Tate Modern and brings it to life through contemporary movement and dance. A question is posed: What if Tate Modern was Musée de la danse? This is answered through ongoing debates as well as the two-day project that invites Musée de la danse from Rennes, France to interact and immerse with Tate Modern in an eccentric experience.

One wing of the gallery is currently host to the Making Traces show, which features a variety of artists that individually interpret and capture gestures and motion in their immobile artwork. This theme appropriately coincides with Musée de la danse and, as part of the dancing museum project, is host to some exciting surprises for its visitors. Exploring the usually silent and stationary wing, modern and bass-heavy music becomes audible. The visitors are drawn to the sound where a solo dancer is to be found “popping and locking”. There is an evident juxtaposition between this contemporary urban movement and sound against the static, two-dimensional artwork hung on the walls, which is a bizarre but thought-provoking new experience. Continuing through the galleries, more dancers are seen, randomly performing solo routines amidst the assemblage of original art. Altogether, 20 Dancers of the XX Century collectively perform their solo works that aim to present a living archive of dance that has occurred in the last century.

Walking through the gallery, it is noticeable that many people are gathered at the balcony overlooking the great Turbine Hall, absorbed by some happenings there. The view from above gives a brilliant view of the single dancer that is holding everyone’s attention with his clean and expressively executed movements. While the audience’s attentions are focussed on this particular dancer, another individual on the other side of the hall begins to move likewise. As one dancer reaches the end of his routine, the audience come to realise there is another performance, and so they rush over in haste to see it. Watching these movements of the crowds from above is as entertaining as watching the actual performance! This passing of motion from one performer to another is part of Levée des conflits, which when originally performed in 2010, was carried out by 24 dancers and lasted for several hours. Following the solo performances, choreographer Boris Charmatz and the Musée de la danse infiltrate the entire hall and disperse themselves amongst the public. They then encourage and guide the public to join in the erratic movement in unison with them. It is fascinating to see such a large mass of people being lead so freely in an uninhibited motion. The result is quite spectacular and hypnotic, altogether creating an imaginative collaboration of the arts.

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