Every Minute Motherland, Maciej Kuźmiński ©Przemysław Jendroska

The Body-Archive and War

Every Minute Motherland by the Maciej Kuźmiński Company plays on December 19 and 20, 2023 in DOCK 11 and tells of bodies as witnesses of war, trauma and normality.

Seven dancers clothed in earthy tones enter the stage. A gaze: searching, sampling, each other, you and me. Constant whirring can be heard in the background. A movement language develops amongst them, danced in uniform, executed with precision, on the beat, almost warlike. Bodies turn, movements are thrown, repetitions. Calm, almost meditative piano music and loud footsteps on the floor are added to this, creating independent rhythms. A clockwork of dancers repeating movement patterns. It is possible to step out but soon everyone is caught back in the loop. Every Minute Motherland is about trauma, exile, alienation and identity. The piece was developed with Polish and Ukrainian dancers shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It has toured since then with the same relevance and actuality, added to by a terrifying normality which increasingly seeps into reports and the monitoring of war.

Different constructions and formations, abstract and concrete gestures develop and change the space. The movement elements are executed at a technically demanding level. Symmetry evolves and is broken. I see weapons, target points, I hear barking dogs. The weight of what is being told breaks the harmony that is formed by the bodies’ symmetry. There are many on stage. Then individuals. Alone. As a pair in solidarity and communal suffering. I hear the dancers’ breath alongside the rhythm of their feet, synchronised, mixed up. I feel close to the dancers, to their stories which cannot be overseen or ignored.

Then silence reigns. Struggle. The attempt to stand up alone. Then in pairs. The evening is marked by common experiences and individual stories. A door of light opens on stage. A dancer that I read as male is standing there, behind him a person with long hair. Hands grasp each other, around each other, caring for, fighting off, holding each other still. Other hands become own hands and then the dancer disappears somewhere in the darkness of the stage.  I sit here and think about different realities of living.

At some point, I stop thinking, associating and just feel. The Maciej Kuźmiński Company succeeds in expressing what words cannot convey anymore. What only bodies of other bodies can speak. Emotions and experiences inscribed in the body-archive, other bodies report about what is, what was and what could be.

I would like to see the piece as a work about memory. Instead, however, I remember the horrifying everyday reality of what is being told.

After the performance, the choreographer Maciej Kuźmiński tells us about a dancer, that despite the possibility of being called up to the army, still wants to travel back to the Ukraine for Christmas. What is “home” in Every Minute Motherland?

English translation by Isabel Robson

Every Minute Motherland by Maciej Kuźmiński Company was performed at DOCK 11 on December 19 and 20, 2023.