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Marie-Gabrielle Rotie

Black Mirror
Brutality of Fact

Laban Theatre, London. November 3 2007

Two premieres of current work by Rotie made for a riveting evening at Laban. Our regular attendance there for cutting-edge contemporary dance stemmed from the move of Laban to their wonderful new home in Deptford and, later, the merging with Trinity College of Music to create the UK's first conservatoire for music and dance.

Music was our entry point, though the potential for collaboration with Trinity students for dance with live music still awaits fuller realisation. On this occasion, composer Nick Parkin provided two remarkable electronic sound scores which, in conjunction with superb lighting, underpinned the staging.

Marie-Gabrielle Rotie's 40 minute solo went from stillness to grotesque bodily distortion and occasional violent movement, ostensibly depicting childhood fears of the dark in the context of the famous early film Nosferatu (Murnau 1922), which was also the basis for Mauricio Kagel's quirky television film MM51, in which one of the Kontarsky brothers at the piano found himself entangled in Murnau's screen horrors.

Fay Patterson had Rotie in darkness, silhouetted against an expanding frame of bright light at the back, and later confined to a trapezoid on the floor; she at first wielded ritualistically a pair of antlers; later her large and expressive hands (right) were conspicuous in tortured, grotesque poses.

After the interval, for the more concise take on Bacon's studies (illustrated above) Rotie was joined by two near-nude colleagues, with black squares covering their nipples, confined to three square cages of light on the floor, where they depicted graphically movements and emotions evoked by the Crucifixion. Memorable visual images during the evening were counterpointed by the rolling white noise etc of Parkin's abstract soundscapes, projected in the Bonnie Bird Theatre at exactly the right volume (not always so there!).

It was a fairly short if draining evening.

I hope that on a future occasion Marie-Gabrielle Rotie and her dancers might follow performance with a short discussion of her methods in question-and-answer session with the audience, which numbered fewer than deserved on the Saturday because of conflict with Guy Fawkes evening attractions...

Peter Grahame Woolf

Marie-Gabrielle Rotie - Mythic [London premiere]
Laban Theatre, Deptford, London, 11 February 2010

" - - Rotie's distinctive movement aesthetic - - "

"Mythic conjures images of transformation, death and loss, exploring Butô founder Tatsumi Hijikata's assertion that the dead live on inside us."

We non-cognoscenti who helped to fill Laban's Bonnie Bird Theatre got little help from the sparse printed material provided tonight.

This show was presented with high professionalism in its lighting and sound/music (Nick Parkin). It began with a short and brilliant surrealist nightmare film One Quarter (Ian Pons Jewell) with Marie-Gabrielle Rotie the central figure.

The main item was a numbingly slow Butô dance piece in which Rotie seemed to take most of half an hour before she got up onto her feet... Eventually she donned a black dress, in identification with her "late grandmother Rosa Rotie", and finally retreated back-stage sprinkling rose petals.

M-G Rotie's slow motion posturing, particularly of hands and feet, is illustrated above. An alternative possible musical accompaniment which came to mind might have been one of Feldman's slow pieces in which changes are continuous but at first almost imperceptible.

But help is at hand. For an introduction to Butô, do click on my links and take three minutes to watch a demonstration of this esoteric art by a Swiss exponent, in a video which tells more than could a hundred words of my mine groping to describe what it is all about: http://www.watch?v=9ms7MGs2Nh8.

Peter Grahame Woolf


Bacon image from Tate Collection