It’s unknown if the Occupy Movement in France chanted “This is What Democracy Looks Like!” similar to their equivalents in the US. Nor do we know if choreographer Maud Le Pladec began her work to stage a dance to gunshot-laced music with the idea of exporting it to a city that sprouted ubiquitous “No Handgun” signs just a few months before the MCA hosted this work’s North American premiere.
Le Pladec has given us a contemplation on “Democracy” born in Paris and destined to have a different feel when it plays in Peoria, the Ukraine, Chicago or Cairo.
Her goal—and achievement—is to peel away layers in the concept of Democracy. She wants us to dwell in a space where there are actors and acted upon and the question of who has the power is always in the air.
We feel none of the peace of consensus that Democracy can bring. Rather, this is a dance of contention and threat –or promise-- of anarchy at every turn.
This choreographed contemplation is staged with five ever-kinetic dancers and a percussion group called Ensemble TaCTuS. At times we don’t know who is drummer and who is dancer. Even the drum sets move at times, as do the lights, often with strobe flashes.
The drums vibrate as do the dancers. The cymbals crash and the dancers follow suit. As though tired of being acted upon, the dancers revolt and take over the drums. We linger in that space where we wonder if the peaceful demonstration we had been enthusiastic to join will now turn violent. In Le Pladec’s hands, THAT’s what Democracy looks like.
The export of this piece to Chicago was two years in the works and midwifed by the MCA. Two percussion compositions – “Dark Full Ride” by Julia Wolfe and “Silence=Death” by Francesco Filidei – fill the performance space to maximum capacity—so much so that eyes and ears compete for full attention.
Once again the MCA has given Chicagoans a chance to experience a performance that pushes the boundaries. Each MCA Performance season includes similar new strokes in choreography. To receive information on MCA performances in the coming year keep track of the Museum of Contemporary Art website or call 312-397-4010.