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SIKORSKI:

“Oscillation” by Ferran Cruixent – a spectacular world premiere

 

The ballet “Oscillation” is the last part of a trilogy by Heidelberg choreographer Iván Pérez about the Millennial generation. The series focuses on those born between 1980 and 2000 by means of dance, music and visual arts. After “Impression” and “Dimension”, the circle is now to close with new orchestral music by Ferran Cruixent. The most extraordinary aspect about Cruixent’s ballet music, however, is that it was actually written at the height of the Corona crisis in the spring of 2020.As part of our survey of our composers and how they coped with the crisis, particularly in artistic terms, Ferran Cruixent stated how his ballet music had been greatly influenced by his feelings during the crucial times of the pandemic. In his words the style of the music is elegiac and reflective.

The world premiere of the ballet “Oscillation” was originally scheduled for November 2020 but was postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic. On 23 October 2021, the world premiere is now to take place at the Theater Heidelberg. 

Ferran Cruixent in interview on “Oscillation”:

To what extent did the pandemic affect the music of “Oscillation”?

Ferran Cruixent: The quarantine caught me during the last phase of the work, so I can't say that the pandemic has particularly influenced the music. Nevertheless, the planetary restriction has already granted a much broader meaning to the liturgical dramaturgy of the work. "Oscillation" represents a search for the essential, for the love of life. I am especially happy to hear it, to relive this profound phase of the chapter of my life. For me, this music is the unexpected expression of that moment: a piece full of hope. 

Why is the music rather quiet? The theme is also the millennials, who represent the youth of today, is it not?

Cruixent: The theme of Millennials was mainly on our minds during the piece “Impression” (2018), the first part of the trilogy.

“Oscillation” goes beyond Millennials and is a composition in an interdisciplinary collaboration with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and Dance Theatre Heidelberg. The 70-minute-plus work is divided into seven interconnected movements of varying durations and is inspired by current scientific research into the collective behaviour of cells and their various oscillatory processes, particularly during the embryonic phase.

As calm as a gestational phase seems, so do some parts of the work. Calm, perhaps, according to our feeling, but the inner microcosm is powerful and immense. A sum of infinite vibrations. A search for the essential. 

Does the music have special timbres?

Cruixent: I am again taking up the concept of “cyber singing”, which combines orchestral instruments with modern technical means, e.g. smartphones. “Cyber singing” defines a new possibility of interaction between performer and composer. At the beginning of “Oscillation”, recordings of whale songs are played back via the musicians’ smartphones. A whole family of whales of different ages sings endless songs, opening up the whole dramaturgy of the work. This makes the piece seem very liturgical.

Did Iván Pérez talk to you while you were working on the score and express certain wishes? 

Cruixent: The nice thing is that I was allowed to compose the music before the choreography was created, because there is no libretto as such. So I was able to conceive my own, free dramaturgy.

Choreograph Iván Pérez in interview: 

Millennials are perhaps the most affected group in this pandemic. How did the corona crisis change the conception of your ballet “Oscillation”?

Iván Pérez: This pandemic will mark all the generations experiencing it, but the Millennial specifically is the generation that will have to show its creative potential and come up with quick solutions. Firstly, the technological shift deeply affected the millennials, being the first generation embracing the internet and technology as an extension of our bodies. Then, the 9/11 disrupted our sense of security and technology became a surveillance tool. Currently, this generation has to deal with the corona crisis, in which technology is a way to stay connected globally, though forcing us to become locals in our cities, towns and homes due to the lockdown. This crisis has influenced the development of “Oscillation” too, of course. Months ago, I started an interdisciplinary collaboration with the Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in order to question collective behavior in cells and in humans. For several years, concepts like interpersonal space and forms of communication between bodies have been a part of my research in dance. For me, it was originally very exciting to bring dance and science into a creative dialogue around this new work, though I had no idea how relevant this collaboration would become as the Covid-19 started spreading and our living conditions drastically changed to this degree. Now, after experiencing months of lockdown and spatial restrictions in public spaces, we can all say that we have been a part of a collective study of interpersonal space. We have become, forcefully, masters of the ‘choreography of distance’. This is why “Oscillation” is the last part of a trilogy on the Millennial Generation, but also a reflection of the current events since March 2020. Therefore, the work investigates new forms of togetherness through dance, music and visual arts. 

Is there a narrative element or is “Oscillation” abstract?

Iván Pérez: “Oscillation” is a multi-layered dance performance with live orchestral music and video projection. There is not a narrative attached to it, though we can talk in terms of musical, visual and choreographic dramaturgies. I am not a fan of the word ‘abstract’ because it implies a sense of being cold or unemotional, or even worse, difficult to understand. I would rather use the word ‘visceral’, which immediately directs us to the senses and involves the body. I also like to see the work as a collaborative space, even though I am the director. More specifically, the piece derives from conversations between scientists and the artists, whom I carefully chose and brought together because of their expertise and respective sensibilities. Although, most importantly, it develops with the dancers in the studio. With them, it is a collaboration too, in which they have the freedom to bring their visions and ideas, searching together for choreographic practices that would trigger our curiosity and that would shine a light onto the questions at hand: How do cells and collectives work? How do we come together, regardless of imposed social distancing? The team consist of twelve dancers, a choreographic assistant, a composer (Ferran Cruixent, of course!), a dramaturge, several scientists, creative producers, a costume designer, stage designer, visual artist, video editors, etc. For me, everyone influences the work in one way or another. This is why I like to encourage conversation within the team and with the audience, too, to support the development of the work, but also for everyone to co-own the project. Therefore, the work is for me a kind of synthesis of the arts and the result of a collective artistic effort, which is bound to be a construction of multiple viewpoints. 

Ferran Cruixent says that his music will have a rather calm character. What does this mean for your choreography?

Iván Pérez: When Ferran says calm, I imagine that he wants to suggest that the music is somewhat fluid and with plenty of space for the dancers to live in, like with the opening part “Emergency and Self Organization”. This is true, though I am confident to say that he also composed very powerful and intricate movements, where the music is not only a constant flow of waves of sounds, rather a carefully constructed matrix of sonic events, like in the section that he titles “Fluorescences”. In any case, Ferran is a master in creating a communion between the instruments. He knows very well how to engage them in conversation with each other creating a sense of community between the musicians. This feeling written in the score transports the dancers and the audience too, I believe. We, the listeners, cannot escape from the sensitive development of its mantra, which takes you to a physical and sometimes even spiritual experience, especially if you listen to the movement “Coupling”. It moves me to tears during rehearsals in the studio, even though we are only using a computerized version of the score. Ultimately, what I most love about Ferran’s music for “Oscillation” is that with it, he manages to touch the concept of collectivity inspired by developmental biology and nature, the human soul and our need for contact with a flawless and honest integrity. I feel grateful for the opportunity to work with this powerful and meaningful score written by a composer of such a caliber. Now, I can only wish to do it justice with my choreography. 

We see very few dancers on stage. What pictures await us? 

Iván Pérez: We see six dancers on stage to be precise. In order to guarantee the safety of our performers, they need to keep the 1,5 meter distance, as the health associations stipulate in the regulations for theaters. Luckily, there are two couples in the company, which allow us to create two different casts, with one couple in each of them. The couple is performing, as in living on each other’s bodies in permanent physical contact, exploring intimacy and time in an ongoing slow motion dance. As its opposite there is a quartet that must keep distance between each other at all times and that will exist on the other side of the stage. These four performers search for new forms of communication by connecting through rhythm, time, energy and intuition, most of the times resulting in a sort of organized chaos formed of fast paced interactions. In a continuum of movement, the piece oscillates between two poles, love and life. Dance and science become parallel realms too, that invite us to reflect on our current existence. In visual terms, the video projections enhance and support this investigation thanks to the interdisciplinary artist Bogomir Doringer. Bogomir is a curator and researcher, busy with social phenomena and collective behavior, most recently studying the club culture and dance as a form of urgency. Filmed in bird eye view, Doringer is curious in borrowing the scientific approach to research and analyze dancers at work. Here, we see the dancers from a new perspective, zooming in and out, able to examine the anatomy of their communication. Carlijn Petermeijer designs the costumes, inspired by nature and the millennials. We see organic fabrics and colors, combined with a tailored and efficient design style. These bodies are clearly part of a generation that wants to feel free, comfortable and available. 

23.10.2021
Heidelberg
World premiere Ferran Cruixent
“Oscillation” for dance and chamber orchestra
Theater Heidelberg