Puzzled

—  (2007)

Zefiro Torna – Zoo/Thomas Hauert

The music ensemble Zefiro Torna and the contemporary dance company ZOO \ Thomas Hauert join hands for a performance based on old musical enigmas.

Zefiro Torna dedicate themselves to the secrets of the riddle canons from the ars subtilior and the renaissance. The code to these canons is hidden in cryptic clues, as in the famous ‘Ma fin est mon commencement’ by Guillaume de Machaut. Or it adopts the most inventive emblematic forms, such as the labyrinth in En la maison de Daedalus, the compass by Cordier, the key and the sword by Vaet, the chess board by Senfl and Danckerts or the dice by Josquin. These musical enigmas can be interpreted as a metaphor for man’s existential quest. The same theme and technique inspired J.S. Bach for his composition for organ Ein kleines Harmonisches Labyrinth. The human quest is also central in the more recent ricercares by Jonathan Harvey, Heinz Holliger’s exploration of the limits of an instrument and Richard Rijnvos’ music boxes.

Especially the labyrinth recurs throughout history as a symbol for the ‘condition humaine’. In the Christian tradition – to which the old music studied by Zefiro Torna belongs – it represented the difficult path along the temptations of life to the ultimate, heavenly salvation. What could this quest mean today? How can we reconcile a symbol based on the perspective of a unique ‘way out’ with the contemporary relativistic philosophies?

Thomas Hauert explores the mechanics of the body as a combined play of possibilities, directions and limits. One of the main research activities of the company consists of developing complex systems that can coordinate a group in motion. Time and again the dancers change directions, return on their steps, in a quest that seems to have sense nor outcome. Here, the trajectory itself is more important than the outcome. The individual develops a trajectory in an environment full of restrictions, yet retains a certain freedom of choice. In Thomas Hauert’s work, this study of movement between freedom and restriction is applied simultaneously to all parts of the body, at every moment and in every direction.

The performance puzzled develops as a sequence of enigmas: each time a mistery is solved, a new one appears. Polyphonic voices and instrumental caccias accompany the dancers on a timeless quest, that will perhaps never be fulfilled.

co-production / Musica Antiqua Bruges, Festival van Vlaanderen Tongeren, Zoo Compagnie

Els Van Laethem, Cécile Kempenaers cantus
Els Janssens altus
Kristien Ceuppens hautboy
Liam Fennelly / Paulina Van Laarhoven fiddle, viola da gamba
Jurgen De bruyn lute, artistic direction
Wouter Koelewijn organ
Prof. Dr. Katelijne Schiltz research
Contemporary Dance Compagny ‘Zoo’ / Thomas Hauert choreographer