This past Saturday we made a trip to Frankfurt to see William Forsythe's choreographic installation, White Bouncy Castle. White Bouncy Castle is exactly that: a massively over sized white bounce house in the shape of a castle. This installation is of one of perhaps two dozen "choreographic objects" (his term) that are manifestations of his recent investigation into the idea of choreography as a set of organizing principles that can be detached from the body. His idea is to explore all the possible "sites" of choreographic action and to alter its traditionally ephemeral nature to allow for sustained investigation of these "fixed" principles. He asks: "Are we perhaps at the point in the evolution of choreography where a distinction between the establishment of its ideas and its traditional forms of enactment must be made? Not out of any dissatisfaction with the tradition, but rather in an effort to alter the temporal condition of the ideas incumbent in the acts, to make the organizing principles visibly persist. Could it be conceivable that the ideas now seen as bound to a sentient expression are indeed able to exist in another durable, intelligible state?"
Scott and I found White Bouncy Castle a very simple yet effective realization of this inquiry. Its size, its location in a large converted train depot, the theater lights booming in on the "stage," the original score wafting in from overhead speakers and the audience peeking in from the castle's arched doorway helped to transform what could be considered a common children's play place into something more. According to Forsythe, the choreography that appears is a result of the movements and the "social absurdity" created from the destabilization of the environment.
For me, as someone who has been increasingly disillusioned with traditional choreography and as someone intrigued with the idea of bringing people into a visceral experience, Forsythe's ideas are compelling and worth further investigation. Very cool that his work is somewhat more accessible to me here in Germany. (By the way, I think this was our daughter's favorite choreographic work ever.)