MEETING is a little difficult to describe. Essentially, it’s two dudes dancing like computers to an orchestra of tiny robots. Choreographer and performer Antony Hamilton describes it simply: “It’s nerdy dance.”
Just opened at Arts House, the experimental dance piece might sound complicated, but in truth it’s about stripping dance down to the basics. With no lights, recorded music, costumes or narrative, MEETING breaks down dance into its component parts.
Hamilton, along with collaborator and fellow performer Alisdair Macindoe, has been working on a “choreographic vocabulary” whereby the body responds in a programmatic way to rhythm and tempo. “It’s based around numbers,” explains Hamilton. “We count these very metronomic patterns. We’re basically measuring the space between each movement, then there’s a very strong articulation of change of direction.”
The pair considered performing the piece without any musical accompaniment, but Macindoe came up with an elegant, if involved, alternative: 65 wireless droids that bang pencils on the floor to create a hypnotic, metronomic rhythm. “One of the things that’s cool about them is they can move at very high frequencies, at around 100 hertz, which is perceived as a tone by the human ear,” says Macindoe.
Dancing inside a circle made by the robotic instruments, Hamilton’s choreography meshes seamlessly with the mechanics. “You get to this point where it’s hard to tell whether the dancers are moving to a rhythm, or the rhythm’s mimicking what the dancers are doing,” Macindoe says.
For Hamilton, the effect on the dancers is like meditation. “When you’re focused on the counting, the rest of the world disappears,” he says. “Some of the really complex rhythms become much easier once the body remembers it.”