texts

Pierre Lefèbvre about Leistung
Martin Bélanger and Isabelle Schad
Studio de l’Usine C
June 12 and 13, 2005

Just as any artistic work, by its very nature, conjures up what’s absent (as in Magritte’s lesson: This isn’t a pipe, it’s a drawing of a pipe), Leistung is a very disturbing scenic work, for here we’re dealing with a performance that conjures up its own ghost.

Initially, this piece was part of the Good Work series, a dance project dealing with the body and the stage, involving dancers of all nationalities and origins. Firstly, via an Internet platform, this virtual community would exchange and discuss ideas, experience a meeting of minds that would inspire each participant’s personal project, and then these works would later be staged. However, these meetings did not take place. The various dance pieces of this series thus became free electrons devoid of any truly common nucleus or core.

Leistung, which in German means performance and production, is a powerful work since it’s constructed around the concept of this absent core. In other words, its very heart is a hole, an empty space, a gaping lack. Isabelle Schad and Martin Bélanger, on stage with a minimum of props, nonchalantly and playfully discuss the fact that the very basis of the work is non-existent and lacking.

This dance piece constantly refers to what it could have, or should have been, yet it’s in no way diminished or a substitute for what somehow never took place. Fully accepting the failure of the initial project, the creators/dancers boldly throw into question the very nature of their piece, and in so doing, their very presence on stage. With words and movements, the two dancers focus on the rift and the connection between these two modes of expression. They illustrate and embody, to a near dizzying intensity, what’s present and what’s absent, what’s shown and what’s hidden from view.

Leistung thus illustrates a strange paradox: being present and being absent can very well have the same texture, the same weight, the same appearance and form.

Published 30 December 2005