Axel Juhlin-Dannfelt on Flakkande røynd

I came for the dancing, I remember the music.

Arriving at Weld, I am in a peculiar state of mind and body, I am weary and mentally dislocated. Everything had a somewhat rambling feel to it, I have been moving through the day in an ad hoc manner, things and doings stacked upon one another. Perceiving the world as forms and states, atomized, lacking in flow and every moment crystalized. Not unpleasant, nor unusual, I often feel this way. But I also know it will impact my ability to focus and remember particulars; impressions will come and then pass my memory by. Not ideal, considering I need to actually write something about this. On the other hand, I think to myself, the extended now of a performance usually fits this mood pretty well, and if it’s boring I won’t really know anyway.

We gather in the foyer, we talk, I enjoy it. Interaction with others brings context and I feel my mind sharpen just a bit, enough for the moment to swim into clearer focus, I can maintain this perhaps. Heading inside, down the narrow staircase, the room is well lit. Four little islets of felt mats cut into rounded shapes and a scattering of birch stumps, a piano and a tuba off towards one end of the space. We settle down on those islets, we wait. My mind semi-focused, I consider what the program said: Formalism, making artistic principles sweat, exhaust themselves? Disparate materials creating brief unity or something, right? Okay, so basically it can be anything. I am skeptical. But the tube though… it interests me, as former trumpet and tuba player, I love brass instruments.

We wait. The mood in the room is nice though, people are still chatting amongst each other, almost as if we are all easing into the performance. Eventually it begins, two dancers, two musicians enter the floor and find their positions. 

Yes, formalism indeed, balletic postures and movements. But not the unapproachably distant shapes of a distant stage, closer and endearing, they stir a vague sense of longing in me, familiar and comforting. I desire to join in, assume the same postures, shoulders squared, arms in position, hands continuing the shape, extension of the fingers and feet, maintaining the lines of the body. They break off their mutual pattern, both slowing, changing the tempo and score, allowing gravity to pull them down on to the floor, leaving the previous formalism, displaying the choreographic work of the body. I remain caught up in the choreography, in somatic response and longing, yet cast glances towards the two musicians directly opposite me. With my mind I finger the tuba impatiently – is she going to begin playing it soon? I realize I am breaking off, resume attention on the dancers’ movements. The dance meanders along, or perhaps it my mind that is doing the meandering, I can’t tell. My body is with it though. Occasionally one of the dancers studiously arrange herself into a position, then freezes up, body stilling and stiffening, the other carefully lowering her to the ground, still maintaining the same position, now awkward and comical.. It feels multilayered, but I have a hard time truly discerning them. But there is a sense of something being laid bare, the movements, the postures, their failure to remain coherent, a slow and purposeful fluidity in the stark light of the space. 

A short while into the performance, the musicians commence their playing, I can’t tell for sure how long, it feels like ten minutes. From that point onwards, I feel myself more drawn to the music score than the choreographic. It’s good, very good. Swaying gently between rhythmically stirring and gently evocative, I am struck by how the sound of a tuba always affect me deeply, there is a voice there, and I respond mentally and emotionally to it. Instead of my body maintaining focus on the dancers, now my mind and imagination are taking over and following the music. It ends up engrosses me more than the dancers and so I fail to really appreciate their progression, it seems repetitive to me now, albeit still enjoyable. In a brief intermission, they change shoes into something with thick wooden soles, actually quite gracefully made – sneaker clogs. They look cool, but I can’t really figure out why they are there, I think my concentration has strayed too far off, not that it matters, I am still enjoying this. 

The performance last for maybe an hour, and afterwards there is a talk about a publication together with the creators of it. I opt out and drink a couple of glasses of wine in the foyer instead. I am trying to make sense of what I’ve seen. I find it hard to express anything about it, it was good, I guess. Or rather, it looked and felt good, but there was a vagueness to it, at least in relation to the program. Perhaps something I will feel more skeptical about in the morning. At the moment though, and as I head on home, I mostly think about the music, and the voice of the tuba, and it soothes me into a much needed sleep.