Watadour

Performance (2014)

Théatre Al Madina

Beirut, Liban

“Watadour” … This complex and demanding work is a collaboration embracing four quite distinct forms and talents. Complementing Abou Diab and Habis’ interpretations of Rajeh’s choreography, and the performances of improvised veterans Kerbaj and Sehnaoui, is the work of Palestinian visual artist Nasser Soumi.

 

Soumi’s contribution, the disk upon which the dancers labor, revisits the artist’s “Memory of Indigo,” an installation-dance piece staged in the village of Shilparamam, near the Indian city of Hyderabad, in 2006. In that piece, dancers moved across a disk-shaped surface placed at an oblique angle to the ground.

 

Here the disk isn’t fixed at an angle. Over the course of the hour-long performance, the circular surface is ever shifting. Parallel to the stage at the start of the piece, by the end it stands at a 90-degree angle. By this point, the dancers resemble urban guerrillas rappelling across the face of the screen, themselves reflecting Kerbaj’s swirling abstractions.

 

The piece’s mechanized aspect – the electric winches and harnesses working in counterpoint to Soumi’s discreetly moving surface/screen – lends the piece an unexpectedly retro quality. The violent juxtaposition of human fragility with the omnipresent machine is very much a 20th-century obsession, by now superseded by the digitized, ego-fellating virtualities to which “The Matrix” gestured.

 

Jim Quilty

The Daily Star, Beirut, 22 January 2014