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Flash Review 2, 10-3: New Illusions
Dunoyer and the Art of Silence

By Rosa Mei
Copyright 2001 Rosa Mei

BRUSSELS -- When Andy Warhol saw an interesting subject, he would say, quite evenly, "Gee, who is that boy? He is fantastic." So he would have said of Vincent Dunoyer, who is, quite simply, fantastic. Dunoyer, a former stalwart in Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's Rosas, is a complete dancer/artist, one with a strong, clear vision of what he seeks to convey with his work and how to do it. In a recent showing of "The Princess Project" at the Kaaitheater Studios, Dunoyer transported us to an intimate world of dreams, irreplaceable loves and awkward memory. It is a realm of heightened sensitivity where you can feel him monitoring his own alpha and beta rhythms. Originally created as a duet, "The Princess Project" has evolved into an unintentional pas de deux for a solo dancer. Dunoyer carves the empty stage into a landscape of unraveled psyche, with only ghostlike dancing images on a boob tube to keep him company.

A square screen stage left sets up the theme for "The Princess Project." "Opening scene. Two persons. They had the same dream. At the same time." We see silent black and white images on a small TV -- grainy, overexposed ghost images of stars and dancing bodies. Hubert Machnik's sound score, made from electronic manipulation of audible signals for the blind at zebra crossings, fills the space with waves, breathing and ticking. When Dunoyer enters, bare-chested in white pajama pants, he walks to a specific spot on the floor and sits silently. It's the quiet of a Buddhist monk. No extraneous movement, no unnecessary breathing. When he begins to move, he does not perform dance phrases, but rather personal rituals, daily chores; he assumes body positions like those that you would see in time-lapsed photos of REM sleep patterns. Everything is meticulously orchestrated. Even walking about the stage, Dunoyer rarely chooses a bee-line from point A to point B. His path is as circuitous as is memory, and he moves as if being drawn by muscle memory. When he exits the stage, we hear the Velvet Underground croon, "I'm set free, I'm set free. I'm set free...to find a new illusion."

As an artist, Dunoyer is not afraid of silence, nor does he succumb to the need to show technical prowess and "fierce dancing" on stage. He does not emote but rather documents and catalogs the physical details of such abstact emotions as love, sadness and desire. We can see, smell, taste, touch and feel his sense of loss and longing. He stimulates the occipital lobes, perception, and illusion. It's an acute sensitivity to the passage of time, reminiscent of Cunningham's "Beachbirds" and Warhol's 1963 movie "Sleep," which documented eight hours of poet John Giorno asleep in his bed. In the same way Warhol intended to make the viewer look at something for longer than normal, Dunoyer shifts our perception of time by drawing us into personal interior spaces.

As a performer, Dunoyer engages us with his unwavering intent. His meticulous grace is equal parts yin and yang. Small and fine-boned, he is aware of every weight shift in his body. At times catlike, at others human, Dunoyer moves with finesse without sacrificing an almost pedestrian directness. It's a Steve Paxton approach with a 21st century gloss.

Paxton once said, "We're focused on the phenomenon, rather than the presentation." The second piece of the evening, "Sarah, Vincent et moi," a collaboration between Dunoyer and Raimund Hoghe and still a work in progress, fed on this notion of art more as exploration than entertainment. Hoghe is the "moi" of the title and the instigator of this movement experiment. He begins by literally feeling the side walls of the stage as if a blind man groping for an exit. He takes a microscope and methodically examines the space, throws sand upstage and then lies on the beach of his own making. Before lying down, he removes his shirt to reveal his extreme scoliosis and hunched back. Enter Dunoyer, performing ritualized pedestrian movements of sitting, standing, walking and lying on the ground. Later when he and Hoghe perform a ditty dance, walking or lifting a leg in unison, we become acutely aware of their individual styles and attitudes. The material feels unedited, presented without the audience's pleasure in mind. "Sarah, Vincent et moi" is at times exhilarating and sometimes exhausting to watch. A throwback to the Judson era. Theater as event not spectacle.

Dunoyer is obsessed with exploring the relation between himself, his partner and the observer. Through personal ritual, he creates meticulously crafted vignettes of vertical love, horizontal pain and images that linger somewhere deep in the occipital lobes. Love hurts, but somehow, the pain is fine.

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