Sometimes an artwork is so brazenly arrogant, so defiant in the face of conventionality and so utterly swept up in its own raison d’être, that the audience can appreciate the sheer force of will and the uncompromising drive behind it. Choreographers such as Roman Preljocaj come to mind. The problem with Lea Moro’s (b)reaching stillness is that it is dismissive without being fulfilling, and archly conceptual without any substance, excitement or performativity to hold it together.
Moro is inspired in (b)reaching stillness by the movement possibilities of stillness, and she takes as her starting point the lushness of Baroque painting. The stage is certainly coloured exuberantly, with its brazenly turquoise floor and the garish gold of the inflatable pine trees that pop up (inexplicably) towards the end of the piece. Moro and her two dancers are clad in black trousers and black shoes, only, their bare torsos hinting at the sensuality in the paintings they’ve worked from.
What is offensive in Moro’s work is not only the length of time she subjects her audience to watching herself and the other performers moving slowly, agonizingly on the floor. Nor is it the haphazard, loosely based structure of motifs and images (so frustratingly prevalent in a lot of contemporary dance), or the lazy references to Swan Lake (indicating nothing, as far as I can tell). No, it is that Moro thinks that we, as an audience, will stick with her through her excavation of a theme already tenuous and intangible in the first place. That we will enjoy her (ironic?) drink from a water fountain at the side of the stage halfway through the piece, and that we too will feel proud at ourselves for ‘getting it’. Challenging your audience is one thing: holding them in contempt is another.