Watch a film or a screen and there’s always a slight flicker: there are gaps between frames, skips between scanlines. That’s not so different, says choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh, from what we see in real life. Our brains filter out interference, processing information into recognisable images.
In Flicker, Jeyasingh brings those gaps and interruptions to the foreground. Groups of dancers splinter and reshape, duets may be mismatched or out of line. Michael Nyman’s digitally manipulated score is often clouded with irregular electronic rhythms, like aural static. On-stage cameras project images of the dancers as ghostly, unsettling counterparts to the live performers. Computers warp and filter these images as they are relayed, so that only towards the end do they begin to resolve into human figures.
Exit No Exit
Exit No Exit is in some ways a companion to Flicker. Jeyasingh saw a website that showed how the world might appear through the faceted eyes of a honey-bee. In Flicker this led her to think about the fissures in perception. Exit No Exit is more about seeing the stage from a bee’s-eye view: fragmented, fractional, many-sided.
The music, again by Nyman, often runs at an angle to the movement: beginnings and endings don’t always coincide, rhythms cross each other, the textures are often different. The constantly shifting light adds its own dimension, enclosing, cutting across or opening out the stage.
And the choreography is almost like two different worlds unfolding in the same place. In one, a solitary woman sits at her table, or moves about the stage as if it were her room. The other calls the stage a stage: the dancers freely enter and exit through the wings, or face the audience across the proscenium. The two worlds variously intersect, outflank, or upstage each other.