03 Feb Marco D’Agostin’s OKOKOK: The line between performer and spectator
ON the 28th January, Marco D’Agostin hosted the first our open rehearsals for ŻfinDays 2023, where we had some insight into the practices behind the process of OKOKOK, and how the dancers had explored some of the concepts within the work.
“With this performance, I wanted to create the right conditions for both dancers and spectators to experience a condition of tiredness: on the one hand it is the tiredness of bodies, on the other the tiredness of gazes.”
What questions does this work aim to evoke from its spectators?
“The questions we silently address to the spectators are these: how do you form your expectations around a dancer’s body? How many movements, and what speed and virtuosity do you need to see them performed at, to feel fulfilled as a spectator? When you get tired of seeing what is in front of you, where does your gaze rest? What do you really want to see?”
What are some of the concepts behind ‘OKOKOK?’
“In ‘Essay on tiredness’ from 1989, Peter Handke tries to describe tiredness as a high and intense experience of living, a moment of abandonment that leads to a kind of contemplation. Tiredness for Handke is the moment when we stop wanting to see all the details, and stop striving to grasp everything. We remove ourselves from the action, and at that very moment, the world comes towards us, gently. With this performance, I wanted to create the right conditions for both dancers and spectators to experience a condition of tiredness: on the one hand it is the tiredness of bodies, on the other the tiredness of gazes.”
The practices shared with us during the open rehearsal are not presented as such in the final piece, but as Marco explained, these practices allow the dancers to step back, and retrace the creation process. They allow the dancers as performers, to place themselves in front of an audience, “always in a new condition of ignorance, of discovery, of not knowing.”
1. The triangle practice & the Bench:
The dancers entered the space one at at time, and stood in stillness, attempting this concept of ‘doing nothing,’ which as an audience we later reflected on is an impossible task.
“At the beginning of the process, we tried to hypothesise a type of presence for this work, and we did this through the practice of the triangle. A body on stage receives information from three different bodies: its own, that of its companions, and that of the spectators. The practice asks the mover to enter the stage, stand in front of the audience and do nothing.”
“Triangle practice cannot generate a meditative state; on the contrary, if we place the body in the presence of all the information in the world, the state of presence, and therefore of the body, can only be electric. Since it is impossible to do nothing, it is a matter of tuning ever-changing openings to the range of possibilities we allow our bodies to follow.”
2. The chain practice:
Some of the dancers demonstrated for us a segment of physical movement material which makes up the work: a constantly moving phrase filled with familiar movement references. Throughout, the dancers maintain a constant and intense eye-contact with their audience members, making us question our role as spectators, and how we interact with action in front of us.
“The central part of the work, which is meant to produce the double state of tiredness, is based on a long and uninterrupted chain of movements, all inspired by real forms of entertainment from the 20th century to the present day. The body hypothesis that we wanted to test is that of a body that is efficient to the utmost of its capabilities but in which there is a friction with the plane of the gaze, which instead delivers itself with fragility to the audience.”
3. the fossils practice
The last section of the work was created from this practice, in which Marco gave the dancers the following instructions:
“The land is a place where all that has been rests, beneath metres of soft earth. The air of the land still holds memory, invisible, of the movement of the world. You are the archaeologists – diviners of memory – on a quest to save what is left. Simultaneously, you are the ‘finds’, the objects unearthed by the archaeologists. Test the possibility of this double posture starting from a position of total abandon. Let the tiredness and the memory of these days penetrate you.”
Remember: the archaeologist scours the land with his own step.
Remember: a fossil is always a way to invent the future.
Remember: memory follows unexpected routes.
“The central part of the work is meant to produce the double state of tiredness, and is based on a long and uninterrupted chain of movements, all inspired by real forms of entertainment from the 20th century to the present day.”
How have the dancers embodied these practices in the work?
“The questions that vibrate behind the tireless choreography and that I have invited the dancers to hold in their chests are these: what is behind the absurdity of all movements in the world, and especially movements that are created to please? What thoughts move a body that dances uninterruptedly, and which of these can emerge on our face?”
OKOKOK forms part of our ŻfinDays double bill, which you can catch at Valletta Campus Theatre, on the 17th and 24th February 2023
‘OKOKOK’ is supported by @iiclavalletta (Istituto Italiano Di Cultura) and co-produced with @_van_ity (Associazione Culturale VAN)
Watch James Vernon’s trailer for ‘ŻfinDays.’ Paolo Mangiola’s ‘Nuova Figura’ features as part of our ŻfinDays double bill.