This resting, patience by Ewa Dziarnowska, presented from 3-6 pm on 13 and 14 January at Sophiensæle in the frame of Tanztage Berlin 2024, is an emotional passage of bodily tension rising, rupturing, releasing and regenerating through cycles of feeling as dancing.
A carpet of blue extends across Sophiensæle’s ground floor multi-use Kantine, tracing a spacious horizon beneath our feet. Upon this expanse, Ewa Dziarnowska and Leah Marojević, across three absorbing hours, dance powerful expressions of solitude and desire, apart-together, producing a collective reckoning of our bodies as living, feeling matter.
Separated in space, like islands detached by the blue ocean between them, they dance as though moved by forces emanating from the inner spaces of their hearts. Dionne Warwick singing What the World Needs Now plays on loop, complete with recorded applause. Eyes often closed, hair, chests and wrists flicking with this classic pop song calling for love, the dancers are moved by ebbing and flowing dynamics of body-feelings, and the fine lines that connect them: pleasure, passion, pain. In the moments separating repetitions of the song, their breathing and swishing audible, I can recognise the bouncing waltz and lyrics “Love, sweet love” in the visual rhythms of their bodies. Sound gradually transforms into ambient vibrations filling the atmosphere, interrupted now and then by punk rock.
Maggie Nelson asks in Bluets, “If a colour cannot cure, can it at least incite hope?” The blues in this dance do, with sadness, beauty and devotion, in harmony with Nelson’s heart-wrenching and sensitive meditation: “I know that loneliness can produce bolts of hot pain, a pain which, if it stays hot enough for long enough, can begin to simulate, or to provoke—take your pick—an apprehension of the divine.” Surrendering to blue’s sorrow and truth, the dancers press into surfaces. Skin meets carpet, walls, chairs, and occasionally the audience’s own bodies, as their exploration of longing physicality, through slow, twisting gestures, becomes one with the substance of blue space and its materiality, changing my experience of its length, breadth, and depth. I recall Yves Klein’s famous description of blue as a colour beyond dimension.
This thick, permeable movement develops into phrasing danced in unison, maintaining the richness and strain of their relentless torquing, every now and then ruptured by quick spurts; arms throw, chests pump, they pull off and unzip their clothing, clutch at their own breasts and genitals. Their exceptional virtuosity is in the quality with which they perform intense physical exertion. They are finely attuned to each other in real time, without showing us observation of the other, nor exhaustion, true to this work’s subtle evocation of bodies yearning alone through time. As Deleuze and Guattari conceive of desire and its object as one and the same, echoing in the final passage of Nelson’s The Argonauts and its queer commitment to love, birth and family-making (“But really there is no such thing as reproduction, only acts of production. No lack, only desiring machines”), desire in this dance is conceived as choreographic production.
Moving between different durational practices, Dziarnowska and Marojević change clothing from backless, chiffon, elegant Pina-esque gowns, into jeans, shirts, and skirts, a nod to Comme des Garçons’ checkerboard collections. Blue shades wash the space with different textures as they adroitly transition and redirect our attention, every so often shifting chairs into different constellations to rearrange our gazes. They transfer their weight through aching contortions upon the deep blue floor, and dance upbeat solos and duets in which energy flies, kicks, and explodes into space, thrashing exuberance. Dziarnowska screams as she pops and throws her body with Janet Jackson’s The Pleasure Principle, her patience tested by the intensity of feeling.
Engulfed in this changing environment in which time is freely, generously gifted, I delight in motions of gushing flow, unfolding spines and weight that moves through extending legs—never finding stillness—sensing pleasure and pain shoot through my own legs, pelvis, and spine, although I’m not dancing. My cheeks flush, my heart aches, my mouth breaks into smiles. Their performing bodies transmit emotion physically. By presenting its performers for consumption as desiring bodies, This resting, patience affirms dancing as an approach to living and survival, through the pain, dissatisfaction, heartbreak, loss, joy and craving felt time and again in the cycles of our lives. “If blue is anything on this earth”, Nelson writes in Bluets, “it is abundant”. I indulge in this luxurious offering, swirling in the grace, style, and virtue of the dancers’ nuanced production of presence.
The title is a quote from Maggie Nelsons’s Bluets.
This resting, patience by Ewa Dziarnowska (Performance: Ewa Dziarnowska and Leah Marojević) has been presented on 13 and 14 January at Sophiensæle in the frame of Tanztage Berlin 2024. Tanztage take place from 5-20 January. Tickets: https://tanztage-berlin.sophiensaele.com/tickets/