Chachki and Kitsch, 2015.
A work choreographed by Emma Batman & Mathew Heggem for a concert with Bridge & Olive Dance, performed at Triskelion Arts, Brooklyn, NY. Music: "I think I like you" by Donora, "The Sea is Calm" by CoCo Rosie, and "Sail" by AWOLNATION
The opening images starts with objects in space. Two bodies. Gold and Silver. A Man. A Woman. Chairs in the background. Shadows, Low Light. We are opening our eyes and brought into this world of movement sequences by choreographers Mathew Heggem & Emma Batman.
From this opening image, the piece embarks on a series of related sections, a collage of chachkis in the span of the work assemble to create the whole meaning behind the title.
We ask questions: What is the objectification of an object? What kind of control do these objects have on our lives? What is an object, anyways? Can it be a feeling, a memory, a sense? And within the span of our lives, we collect these things. Some of value. Some lacking much value at all. These things are our chachkies.
Playful. A little bit kitsch. Quirky, unison moments. Fun and sometimes strange, this work starts off on the lighter side.
As the dancers move through the piece, we witness manipulation and interactions between the two. Throughout the work, the phrase material articulates the technique that gives a backbone and foundation to the piece. The dancers engage their technical backgrounds to express and explore a unique movement vocabulary.
There's something surface about the work at first. The name contributes to our understanding of the lightness, or even superficiality, here. Chachkies, after all, are just objects that your parents have around the house; kitsch often lacks substance… but how we love it so!
And yet, how are we being controlled by these things in our lives. How are we letting this happen? And, to what degree? These things that are tangible, real—yes— but also impermanent and self-made. Superficial. Meaningless but essential, all at the same time.
And so, we have a dark side to this work too. There's something mannequin-like and lacking in humanity about their movement at times, the partnering is not necessarily gentle or mutual, and there’s a disconnected or void between the two dancers at moments... Are we puppets on the strings of our own self-made objects? Are we automated and motivated by these objects?
What’s wrong with idolization?
Ultimately, this work suggest that there's something creepy sneaking around the objects of our lives—haunting even. It's a strange beauty that some are curious about. But it’s also the darkness in life.
The partnering too, in its tension—pushing and pulling—brings up a question about the relationship between these two bodies in space. What are they? Are they us? Are they them, these two dancers? There's something peculiar about being the observer too of this dance. The performance itself is an object of our creation. As an audience member, we're actively participating in this objectification. Are we aware of this? What does this awareness mean?
We are left asking ourselves: What can we do to influence these objects? Can we reclaim them on our journey? Make them us. How do we shape the things in our world? And, is it the right thing to do?
A little bit sexy; an eclectic music selection; light partnering with a good amount of phrase work; play of techniques and individual performance style; timing and structure are important to this composition.