At the delightfully avant garde opening sequences of Manchester International Festival’s Tree of Codes I felt a little cheated.
In 2012 I had run around Arthur’s Seat in a lightsuit – and not once, since a practice session was necessary to the choreography (Speed of Light, Edinburgh Festival). I then emailed the innovators behind that performance hoping to borrow a suit to map one of the expressive dimensions of natural sign language poetry performance (Signart). Sadly my request fell on stony ground.
The next sequence, involving angled mirrors, had me wishing all my deaf and sign sensitive friends were in the stalls alongside me (and no, that number does not include Mr. Tumble, unless his purpose is to offer umbrellas at the farthest reaches of the foyer).
And then sorcery gave way to beauty – the chromatography and chroma-graphics; Jamie xx’s formational soundscapes; refractions of reflection upon reflection; layered dimensionality….
Yet the real 3D human bodies remained somehow trapped – if not in dimension, then in plane – and, indeed, in only the lower reaches of the vertical (as if footnote or subtitle).
Despite the virtuosity and funk of dancers and choreographer Wayne McGregor, towards the culmination of the revolving circular windows one longed for some lift – perhaps by such choreographic stage management as vertically revolving panes lifting individual dancers to an exit amongst the higher boughs.
Or for some underscoring of depth. This latter, in particular, could have liberated the embodied text by occasioning the dancer to emerge from those unreachable parallel dimensions, through the coupéd scenery and out toward or even into the auditorium in which we featured. Foer’s book made such manoeuvres possible for the word.
Small frustrations not withstanding, I was not disappointed to have made the pilgrimage for such a gem, and left dreaming of chats with Olafur Eliasson.