While at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I had the privilege of seeing a small dance performance on the outskirts of town. It was quite a trek to get to the small theater, so I hoped that the performance would be worth the work it took to get there. I was instantly intrigued, even before the performance began, for the work being shown was entitled “This is Not a Dance about Love.”
A man and a woman walked out onto the stage and clutched each other. They looked like they were on a dance floor somewhere in the 1950’s as they swayed their bodies in time with the silence; using their breath as a metronome. I was drawn in immediately. Suddenly, the tone of the piece changed dramatically and they began voraciously throwing each other around the stage. It was intensely violent. It was intensely passionate. Almost as quickly as the throwing began, it ended. The woman started swearing at her partner in Spanish. He yelled back horrible things in English. Then they stood there—silent. They started parallel movement phrases, their bodies swiftly passing each other as they traversed the stage. They started slowly and softly repeating the spoken word phrases they had previously yelled at each other. The silence in the theater became a tapestry of terrible words woven together as the backdrop for this beautiful, intricate, incredibly loving movement. Once again the movement stopped. The female dancer began gliding through her phrase again. The male dancer systematically arranged six bottles of wine as he crouched on the ground. The woman grabbed a bottle and started to drink it and then spit wine at her partner as he finished arranging the other bottles. Then he retaliated. As the bottles became more and more empty, the stage became wetter and wetter. At one point, the man stood at the back of the stage and lifted his head and started to simply pour out one of the bottles over himself. The image evoked something rather Christ-like and then the movement phrases started again. During this repetition the dancers slipped and caught themselves as they ran from one side of the stage to the other, as the stage was mercilessly wet with wine. The piece was abrasive and lovely at the same time. I was horrified and entranced. I was emotionally exhausted after this piece, and yet, I still had to find my way back to the hostel in the middle of town.