Go Deeper

Another Sleepy Dusty Delta Day at Avignon

Posted August 7th, 2008

The reviews came in from Festival d’Avignon a few weeks ago–translations came in today. Here’s a review that appeared in Le Monde, translated by Liz Turner, our programming assistant.

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Christophe Raynaud de LageThe intertwining of love and death

From Le Monde
By Rosita Boisseau

A canary on a pile of coal. A girl in a yellow dress, imagining herself as a train conductor. Groups of children, coming and going in single file through miniature mining villages. The show Another Sleepy Dusty Delta Day, created by Jan Fabre for solo dancer Ivana Jozic, is a strange thing, delicate and brutal, on the theme of death and suicide. Far from the parodies and pranks that we have grown accustomed to from the Flemish director and visual artist, this piece plays as a haunting work of blues, leading us down a path that is uncertain, but beautiful.

Three years after his controversial showing of L’Histoire des larmes (The History of Tears) and the reprise of Je suis sang (I am blood) at the Festival d’Avignon, the impassioned Fleming returns on a lighter note, a solo created in his best-loved and best-known creative style. For his dancer-muse Ivana Jozic, who co-choreographed the piece, he wrote a text on suicide and the choice to die on one’s own terms. This text is read in the form of a suicide note, sent by a man to his lover (Ivana Jozic), just hours before leaping into the great unknown. As if in echo, the melody of Bobbie Gentry’s country-western song “Ode to Billie Joe” (1967), from which the piece’s title is drawn, also tells the story of a young man who throws himself from a bridge.

These two deaths become superimposed over the course of the piece, as the female lead folds and unfolds the tattered, well-loved missive. Each day, in a ritual of mourning, she re-imagines the final hours leading to her lover’s disappearance. From this open wound, dance bursts forth, in bits and pieces, all fractured and tumbling down.

Around this girl (Tweety or Sylvester, as the mood strikes her), the staging of Jan Fabre dazzles – the southern United States as imagined by an unhindered Belgian. It’s mid-afternoon, siesta time, and a rocking-chair bats its wings as the girl, at loose ends, drinks a beer (Belgian), imagines herself committing the act as well.

It was the 2006 death of his mother, brought down by cancer, which forced Jan Fabre to reflect in entirely different terms about the death that has haunted his work. He was so affected by his mother’s slow, degenerative decline, two years after her husband passed away, that he vowed never to follow the same route. Against the laws of nature, he thus chose suicide, and dreamt of all its steps, from the initial jump to the final disintegration in mid-flight.

These circumstances may explain the way in which Jan Fabre’s language, usually rather loaded, has become clarified, purified. His words are chosen with lucidity and deliberation. Another Sleepy Dusty Delta Day oscillates between intimate confidences and public declarations. One can also view it as a sort of testament. The gravity of this piece, which weaves love and death together into the project of self-knowledge, moves us unpredictably, at the moment where one does not, or no longer, expects it to, settling into a twilight space, between night and day, as though waiting for sleep in a rocking chair.

Read the original article here.