Tentative Assembly (the tent piece)

4, 5, 7/05 – 20:30
6/05 – 15:00
±1h 15min

Eleanor Bauer is a talented American dancer who trained in New York and Brussels, where she now lives. Over the past few years she has made her mark as one of the rising stars of the Belgian and international choreographic scene. Greatly inspired by aesthetic, philosophical and political theory, her work puts genuine choreographic talent coupled with an irresistible sense of humour to the service of a very articulate reflection on the world today. Her new creation, the second part of a trilogy which began with A Dance for the Newest Age (the triangle piece) , tackles choreography as a place for exploring alternative forms of living together. Making passionate use of the body, dance and movement, Tentative Assembly (the tent piece) invites performers and the audience to come together to construct a space of shared experience. A place of ephemeral gathering, a utopia, where each individual action allows the emergence of new collective configurations…

Eleanor Bauer

Choreography & performance

Eleanor Bauer, Cecilia Lisa Eliceche, Magali Caillet-Gajan, Michael Helland, Liz Kinoshita, Michiel Reynaert, Manon Santkin, Gabriel Schenker, Adam Weig

Dramaturgy & choreographic assistance

Pierre Rubio


Chris Peck


Karel Burssens & Jeroen Verrecht / 88888


Colin Legras

String figures specialist

Philip Noble


Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Kaaitheater


Caravan Production for GoodMove (Brussels)


Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), Kaaitheater (Brussels), Rotterdamse Schouwburg, Centre Chorégraphique National de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon (CCNM) & Jardin d’Europe (Montpellier), TAKT Dommelhof (Neerpelt), PACT Zollverein (Essen), workspacebrussels (Brussels)

Supported by
Vlaamse Overheid

Co-produced by
NXTSTP, with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union

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“I’m doing fine but,
Who knows what happens next year,
You must understand my fear,
Not sure how I should adhere,
To standards I had held dear,
No good in shedding a tear,
I know I will persevere,
Stick to my own hemisphere,
Before I go interfere,
What use is a new frontier,
When we’ve got issues so near,
What one calls a financier,
One calls a big racketeer,
Friends, Romans, countrymen dear,
C’mon and lend me your ear!”
Liz Kinoshita & Chris Peck, fragment uit ‘Dear Ms. Representative’ (lied)

Tentative Assembly (the tent piece) is not a definitive answer to the world’s problems, but an invitation to the world’s problems, harnessing the theatre as a space of potential and the performance as a meeting place and time in which to passionately exercise, question, fantasize, open up and develop matters of concern that can no longer be ignored.”
Eleanor Bauer

“We’re not trying to save the world here, but we do all seem awfully interested in the idea of saving the world. The idea of ‘the world’ itself is a little overwhelming, let alone saving it. It makes me think of those pictures of the earth taken from the moon. Can you imagine being on the f***ing moon? Being able to crush the earth between your thumb and finger like a businessman’s head? Maybe we’re saving the world from some douche bag on the moon who thinks he’s got all the power just because he’s got a longer view?
Chris Peck

“I am not what I know, I am what I do with what I know.”
Gabriel Schenker

Prior to producing this programme text, different attempts were made to arrive at a different kind of text than the preview that now lays here before you. After typing out a conversation with Eleanor Bauer that took place in late March, we decided that a second conversation was needed on the how and why of a programme text. During that second conversation, we decided to ask all performers, composers, dramatists and scenographers from Tentative Assembly (the tent piece) to write a short letter for you. The idea also emerged to publish the scores of the music that would be heard in Tentative Assembly (the tent piece). At the time this text was to be completed, however, it was uncertain whether the music from which the score would be issued would still be played or sung in the performance itself. The short letters proved to be too diverse in style and content, which would have made the reading thereof too difficult for one programme text. The two routes were therefore discarded, albeit not completely. Of the short texts written by Eleanor Bauer, Cecilia Lisa Eliceche, Magali Gajan, Michael Helland, Liz Kinoshita, Chris Peck, Michiel Reynaert, Pierre Rubio, Manon Santkin, Gabriel Schenker, Adam Weig and Karel Burssens & Jeroen Verrecht/88888, this text still contain some fragments, as does a longer text by the composer Chris Peck – he had mistaken the number of characters, which yielded a wonderful text. We begin, however, with a brief statement about the actual creation of the show, as explained by Eleanor in a third conversation in mid-April. That creative process began with the choice of the people with whom she would collaborate. She chose for a heterogeneous group of people with backgrounds in diverse areas of knowledge and artistic pasts and practices that greatly differed from one another, although each of the nine performers on stage also have a background in dance.

“To be experimental in self-organization, looking for new ways to think about individual-collective relations not resting on traditional models, demands that everyone always creates his or her own role. When you don’t have your roles defined, you’ll have to decide on those roles yourself, constantly.”
Eleanor Bauer

The heterogeneous nature of the group ensured that during the actual creation process much would be negotiated and that things would be created individually as well as together. Eleanor herself did not presume that as the choreographer of the show she should impose her own intuition. In this creative process she considered intuition as a space that can and should be shared by different people. In such a shared space, rather than amid a set of individual processes, everyone’s imagination came into play. Today, imagination is generally regarded as a private matter, whether or not regained through forms of commerce. Here, however, one infects one another’s fantasies in a space of intuitions that single-handedly and from their own insights are shared with one another. Concretely: everyone imagined or expressed aloud his or her fantasies about the final performance (which, by already articulating and imagining them, were also surprisingly quickly concrete, as it turned out). Imagination became something public.

At the same time, everyone developed individual proposals for shared practices. The diverse spectrum that resulted ranged from meditative practices and movement through contact improvisation to word games and a walk round the neighbourhood. In dialogue with someone from the group, all these practices were then continually infected and possibly adapted. Everyone led the group for one-and-a-half hours and at that instant the group submitted its own proposal for a practice. Once that was done, the group divided into couples, who would then infect and adapt each other’s practices. Afterwards the practices ended up back in the group. From what were at first individual practices emerged, after the long duration, hybrid, bastardized, communal, communalist practices. A first series of presentations that took place in early March for a small group of outsiders, showed short scenes, like a chorus of affects, a whispered quartet, revolutionary humming and the unravelling of a sweater. Some of these will perhaps also be seen in the performance you will see shortly, or that you have (just) seen. At the same time, everyone read and discussed texts and ideas about communalist forms of politics and cohabitation. Marx and Spinoza were on the table, next to a cluster of contemporary philosophers, and they delved into communism. The Internationale was sung, albeit backwards. All of this happened by engaging different people from the group, whereby time (within a tight deadline) and space (tables and chairs) were freed up for dialogue.

The above exposé hopefully provides a rough idea of how the will for a communalist experiment has permeated the creation of Tentative Assembly (the tent piece) from the beginning. This experiment has a political significance. Cecilia Lisa Eliceche expresses that meaning for herself as follows: “I want to think of the existence of other spaces for experiencing and thinking politics like this one and unlike this one.” Tentative Assembly (the tent piece) is the second part of what would become a trilogy. Eighteen months ago, Eleanor Bauer stood on stage in A Dance For The Newest Age (the triangle piece), along with five other performers, among who were Cecilia and Liz Kinoshita, and composer Chris Peck, who together created the music with Eleanor. The first as well as the last scene of that performance suggested a new beginning. Six dancers traced an empty space in which, if it were a fiction, a new sort of togetherness could thrive. At the same time, however, six real bodies stood on stage. In the final scene “they each move for themselves, their antagonistic movements and noises seem primitive but equally hopeful, as if they were the primal scene from a new world”, as I wrote back then. That last scene yielded interesting discussions after each performance. It generated new questions, such as: why in that last scene did it suddenly seem like every form was manifestly absent? Could you discover a fracture in the rest of the piece, and was that not too big a fracture? Did another piece not begin here? In October 2011, when on her website Eleanor announced a sequel to A Dance For The Newest Age (the triangle piece), she referred to that last scene:

“After A Dance for the Newest Age (the triangle piece) performs the formation and disintegration of one body out of many, Tentative Assembly (the tent piece) investigates new forms of community and individuation that emerge from the many out of the already-one. A formal and intently Modern piece, (the triangle piece) organizes bodies in highly ordered and symmetrical structures that eventually unwind in to a haunting and ambivalent scene wherein the performers, suspended in uncertainty, share the paradoxical and alienating experience of being alone together. Tentative Assembly (the tent piece) continues from there, where A Dance for the Newest Age (the triangle piece) left off, further investigating the reticulation and volatility of individuals in relation to each other and their physical environment. Where laws of form preceded action in (the triangle piece), inquisitive action precedes form in (the tent piece), asking not what it means to make shapes together, but what kinds of shapes emerge from tackling the meaning and experience of being together.”

Tentative Assembly (the tent piece) is a sequel to A Dance For The Newest Age (the triangle piece). In the final scene of the first part of what a will be a trilogy, it was about “being alone together”, in a language of movement in which form-like (physically and climatically, so it seemed, the bodies had something volatile) principles preceded the movement of the bodies. In short: first there was form, then action. In the second part, that volatility of the contemporary individual, towards one another and towards the spaces in which we live, becomes very concrete, and the focus is on new possibilities of working together and being together. At the same time, in Tentative Assembly (the tent piece), Eleanor Bauer does the opposite of what she did earlier. This time, together with eight other performers, a composer, a dramatist, two scenographers, a lighting designer and an expert in the making of wire figures, she has let action precede form.

This text was written between 17 and 21 April. During those days the actual construction or composition of the piece was completed. Which practices and materials will be featured in the performance, which will not, and how will they succeed each other? The challenge to maintain a communalist approach in a creative process with nine performers became squeezed after a first full evening performance sometime in early April. On that occasion the audience had seen a set of practices, presented one after another, as if they could form one single performance. The logical but equally conventional reaction of some viewers was that Eleanor, as the choreographer, should have taken decisions on the actual structure of the piece. At the time of writing this, however, her artistic practice, and that of the others in the group, remains gauged by a communalist way of working. Just as imagination is something subjective, but not necessarily to the extent that the private sphere of an individual has to be reduced, this applies too to the composition of a performance.

Lars Kwakkenbos, with thanks to Eleanor Bauer, Cecilia Lisa Eliceche, Magali Gajan, Michael Helland, Liz Kinoshita, Chris Peck, Michiel Reynaert, Pierre Rubio, Manon Santkin, Gabriel Schenker, Adam Weig and Karel Burssens & Jeroen Verrecht/88888

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Eleanor Bauer is een in Brussel gevestigde Amerikaanse choreografe en danseres. Ze studeerde aan de NYU Tisch School of the Arts (Bachelor of Fine Arts, 2003) en P.A.R.T.S. (Researchcyclus 2006). Haar stukken ELEANOR! (solo, 2005), At Large (trio, 2008), (BIG GIRLS DO BIG THINGS) (solo, 2010), en A Dance for the Newest Age (the triangle piece) (sextet, 2011) ontvingen internationale bijval. Bauer trad op in werk van onder anderen, David Zambrano (Soul Project, 2006), Mette Ingvartsen (why we love action, 2007), Trisha Brown (Accumulation en Floor of the Forest for Documenta 12, 2007), Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker (The Song, 2009), Xavier Le Roy (low pieces, 2010), en Boris Charmatz (Levée des conflits, 2010, en enfant, 2011). Bauer creëerde of participeerde in specifieke projecten als heart the band/hear the bend, een lange-afstandsperformancecollectief met Beth Gill, Chris Peck, Jon Moniaci en Chase Granoff dat periodiek performt sinds 2004; Dig My Aura, een solo voor YouTube uit 2006; 6M1L (6 Maanden, 1 Locatie), een groepsonderzoek aan het CCNM in Montpellier dat in 2008 werd opgestart door Xavier Le Roy en Bojana Cvejic; de episodische The Heather Lang Show door Eleanor Bauer en Vice Versus sinds 2009, en evenementen als walk+talk in maart 2011 in de Kaaistudio’s op initiatief van Philipp Gehmacher, en Musée de la danse: expo-zero op Performa 11 in New York. Bauers geschriften over dans werden zowel gepubliceerd in het Newyorkse Movement Research Performance Journal, Maska (Ljubljana), en NDD van Contredanse (Brussel) als in verschillende publicaties van Sarma, everybody's, Nadine, P.A.R.T.S., en The Swedish Dance History.

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