“Violin Phase” (1981) is the first of the four 15-minute segments of Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s first professionally-recognized work. The piece was staged as part of the Festival d'Automne's tribute to the choreographer's oeuvre, as well as Lafayette Anticipations' start-up Echelle Humaine dance festival.
De Keersmaeker had intended to dance it herself in the modulable spaces created in Lafayette Anticipations building, on an un-raised black-mat type platform carefully covered in very white sand and set on the ground floor in a well made by three wrap-around balconies. Her idea, she said, was to (use her own body to) renew the piece in light of 37 years of experience of listening,
rehearsing and performing.
performed in de Keersmaker's stead, in light of her own experience. As her performance showed, Hashimoto is a performer of great precision in gesture and of emotional power in movement.
I was on the first balcony facing the stage entry area, my
back to a heavy square pillar, so Hashimoto was in my direct line of sight, slightly right of my center.
As her darting feet drew a sand-dollar? or a
lotus? or a rose? or a spiral? I felt Hashimoto's concentration on her body in my own belly, as when my fingers draw negligently along Karine’s spine. As I
saw Karine look at me with a question, I saw in Hashimoto’s dance a tableau: nothing-nowhere, birth, ecstasy, become. Karine, looking, felt, she said, "a body that dares, a body that breaks out bit by bit by bit to join the movement of liberty".
When Hashimoto had taken her bows, as the white sand was swept away, de Keersmaeker came out
to talk. This was not scheduled but it apparently happened at all three performances.
She explained that a fall from a horse clipped her wings and as she explained, favoring strongly her left shoulder, in the traces of white sand on the black platform, the side-lined dancer scuffed out the sand-dollar? lotus? rose? spiral? figure performing "Violin Phase" creates.
For this first of her pieces, de Keersmaeker said, looking up into and around the balconies, she had wanted to start at the beginning of dance, like a kid: jump, turn and wave the hands: do that again and again.
So, with the arms as motor “Violin Phase” does just so: jump, turn, repeat and let loose the natural variation of natural geometries in natural movement.
It's a lovely, obviously important, modern dance piece almost 40 years on; earlier taped performances remain fascinating: the immediacy of live performance of quality such as Hashimoto's turns that fascination to real emotion.