I wished, deep inside my soul, that “Ninhos” was different. It was. | PEDRO COIMBRA
Kids arrived in masses and the internal court of João Alfredo Rhor basic seemed like it would not stand that swarm of little beings. The play “Ninhos”1 by the group Balangandança2 would be presented on the Corrego Grande Ecological Park, but they moved it to the internal court because of the rain.
Kids were arriving in masses and with them a gigantic chorus would rise: “start! start! start!”. For a moment I remembered my time as a child, where I would be taken to watch “child” plays and used to shout that same chorus. Twenty years have passed and the same chorus remains in the collective imaginary as a shout of anxiety. As soon as this image came back to my mind, a film of those child plays that I watched came back as well. One worse than the other. All the same. The same formula. Same stories. Same costume and same scenario. Even the same pauses and accents on the same lines. I wished, deep inside my soul, that “Ninhos” was different. It was.
The play opened with one member of the group presenting the name of the play, the company and also the proposition of the choreography: “…we make dance for kids. The little ones. The bigger ones, and those that have already grown up. The child that lives inside each one of us.” After that, she explained to the kids that the play was going to be a play without a narrative. They would not find a story with a start, a middle and end. It would be something different. She asked them all to imagine how would their nests be like. She asked: “What would your nest be like?” Quickly, one of the kids answered: “It would be very cool!”. And this answer set the tone for the whole choreography.
Dancers developed a series of physical games that would alternate between choreographic execution and child games. It was perceptible that there was a strong reference to a certain physical mimesis related to animals. I say perceptible because more than once kids said: “check it out, a (and insert some animal here)”. Kids were highly interested and present.
As the dancers created and established the games from each choreography block, kids were doing the same on the audience. They were reproducing gestures and choreographic movements. Viewers were paying attention and participating. It was concrete: kids were present. This comes to our attention exactly for not having a concrete narrative established on the play – something we judge necessary to keep a child entertained. There were no story nor character for the kids to hold on to. What existed, and that only, was a game between dancers and also between the kids. They were playing and that was beautiful.
Viewers were involved in such a marvelous way that the play ended with all entering little by little on stage and creating a beautiful nest (I know that using this word on this context is a little cliché, but honestly: who cares?). The final image was really emotional: dancers and audience united on a single act of caring and sharing the same moment and action.
Reflection was almost instantaneous: this is, for sure, a contemporary choreography for kids. All scenic organization (including movement and logic that stands behind the games) is presented on a way to provoke physical states and answers to the dancers. The choreographic turns into drawing-on-the-space as dancers must answer concretely to internal and external stimuli that are results of the relationship (word that I find on the center of this word and one that dialogs strongly with different propostions and musings about contemporary dance) they must establish. The work turns into something for the young audience as its imaginary (that servers as subsidy for the dancers’ choreo-logics ) is the one for the child. The children can recognize patterns on the “Ninhos” dance on the same way that us adults recognize social patterns on different choreographies. The big difference here, and the groups geniality, remains on the proposition on how to engage twith the audience.
Kids want to participate not because they are invited to do so, but because they observe what is happening in front of them and then judge that it is fun. They effectively think: “I can do that”. They think and also say (one boy next to me asked his mom if he could go there dance with the dancers). The play invites kids by its physical proposition that is placed in front of the audience. Kids feel the urge to answer to stimuli, the same way the dancers must answer stimuli on scene.
The game of answering (physically) becomes real when the audience makes it concrete. Dance starts to exist beyond the stage (the court) so it can live in a place inside the body (and in relationship to other bodies) of the person that witnesses a specific act. The spectator ceases to be a simple witness and becomes an accomplice. The imaginary space, first reserved to fiction only (and to those crap plays from my childhood), becomes the space that allows the body to live with others.
Constructing preferably very cool nests.
1 Can be translated as “Nests”.
2 Balangandança it’s a dance group established in 1977 by Georgia Lengos. It has always been developing research on child’s Body Language through original work on contemporary dance.