Disappeared impulse givers

Disappeared impulse givers

Michaela Preiner

Foto: ( )


August 2022

In 2022, the Impulstanz Festival had invited Lenio Kaklea, a dancer and choreographer from Greece, to Vienna, as it had several times before. She was joined by the French pianist and composer of British origin, Orlando Bass, who performed live on a prepared piano.

Sonatas and Interludes” – the title of the performance comes from those John Cage compositions for which he quickly became famous. He used a sophisticated and precisely specified preparation scheme to create new and at the same time reproducible sounds on the piano with the help of screws, bolts, rubber, felt or plastic elements. These compositions, created between 1946 and 1948, have so far only been associated with the name Cage. Almost no one knows that he also worked with various dancers and choreographers who contributed significantly to this development.

Lenio Kaklea explained at the beginning of her performance that she initially had no pleasure in interpreting a Cage work. After all, his name was so well known that it no longer needed a special stage presence to draw attention to this work. It was only when she discovered during her research that it was four women who had a direct influence on Cage’s work during this particular creative period that a pleasurable opportunity opened up for her to devote herself to this subject.

Cage had been experimenting with preparing a piano since 1938. But it was only between 1946 and 48 that he created his work “Sonatas and Interludes”, which is considered a milestone in music history. In 1942, the dancer Syvilla Fort asked him to compose a piece for a performance. As the stage was very small, Cage could only compose for a piano and not, as originally intended, a piece for extended ensemble with percussion. In order to give the music “Bacchanal” an African touch and above all to bring the rhythm to the fore, he began to prepare it. He also created original compositions for Pearl Primus and Valerie Bettie in 1942 – “Our spring will come” for Primus and “And the earth shall bear again” for Bettie. In 1944 he created “Suite of four dances” for Hanya Holm.

Lenio Kaklea focussed her work on these four dancers and gradually – by taking off different pieces of clothing from a motorbike outfit – also showed different, choreographic approaches. In doing so, she referred to such in her movement repertoire that can be seen in short, historical film footage of the dancers.

Like a special movement by Syvilla Fort, in which she lifts one leg while walking and makes a circular movement with it before putting it back on the floor. Pearl Primus developed a sequence of movements in which she dropped to the floor in rapid succession, only to immediately spring back up smoothly. Walking, almost waddling, with legs outstretched without bending the knees is found in film footage by Valerie Bettis. Without directly adopting the choreographies, the individual parts nevertheless receive a very special, concise visualisation through a processing of the historical material.

22 LenioKaklea Sonatas and Interludes c MarcDomage 09 web

“Lenio Kaklea” (Photo: Marc Domage)

The fact that the female part of Cage’s work has been completely forgotten, that the dancers have been in his shadow from the beginning, is also shown by Kaklea with a very reduced and yet strongly expressive performance with Orlando Bass. The two walk across the stage as a couple, but always in such a way that the man comes to stand in front of the woman in such a way that you can hardly see her, if at all. No matter how they stop, Bass covers Kaklea with his figure as far as possible. Several times she tries to catch a glimpse of the audience from her position behind him. This covering game continues until, when Bass is back at the instrument, she finally makes herself small under the piano to finally leave the stage altogether.

On the one hand, Kaklea succeeds in making the different personalities of the four women perceptible, but also their own dancing part. But she also clearly shows their disappearance and the sole position of Cage as an important composer. She makes it clear that to this day the evaluation of his innovations is centred exclusively on his person. With her intelligent, subtle and at the same time highly aesthetic choreography, however, she succeeds in creating a change of perspective that encourages us to take a much closer look at the invisible women surrounding Cage. This page offers a little insight. https://sites.northwestern.edu/cageanddance/jcchoreo/

This article was automatically translated with deepl.com

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