I spotted this in Zentralfriedhof (the main Cemetery) in Vienna yesterday – treading lightly amongst the tombstones in the old Jewish section.
Today we went to see another modern dance piece in the current Vienna festival of modern dance. I really usually do love modern dance. Cate says this performance was brilliant. She loved it. She thought it was fabulous. She thought the dancer was sensational.
To start with it was on at 8:30 in the morning. Fuck me upside down in a sparkly jump suit. Who goes to a dance performance at 8:30 in the morning? Well us obviously – but this is a seriously uncivilised time to try to comprehend modern dance.
The dance company was Marie Chouinard – but we did not see the company - we saw Marie her very self who – like me – was born in the middle of last century.
The performance was held in the old Casino in Schwarzenburgplatz and it is a lovely venue. It has been empty for some time so is rather stark and one can imagine what it was like in its heyday. Not much was required by the set decorator who managed to rustle up a large white sheet and five pieces of wood.
At the start of the show birds started chirping and we had the sound of waves. A lady dressed in a sack came out and started shuffling around the set.
I thought she may have been a cleaner from some Baltic state but she had no broom. She revealed herself to be Marie when after a lot of shuffling she lost the sack and went into a range of slow motion calisthenics.
She did a range of movements and I think I got the hang of most of them. She was very good at standing on one leg and did this many times so we could admire her dexterity. In fact she did most things many times so that we got the message – I think she thought that as we were Austrian we may be particularly dim in respect of the subtleties of Canadian modern dance.
Not me - I got most of them immediately.
There was the giraffe reaching for the highest branch, the lioness licking its cub, the hippopotamus giving birth, the shitting chimpanzee (very close to the hippo giving birth so you had to watch closely), the swan with OCD, the lizard with tourette syndrome and the meerkat on the ant’s nest.
My favourite was the dead beetle. With this one she lay stock still on her back on one of the four pieces of wood - with her arms and legs straight up in the air. She did this so well some of us probably thought she was dead and there was a stirring in the audience. But I saw that the performance was still going on and her big toe was moving - forever the artiste.
The pièce de résistance was the flying duck (naturally my favourite) where Marie balanced with great skill on a piece of wood. A quack would have set the piece perfectly but she was silent throughout – although she did open and close her mouth like a guppy on a number of occasions.
The music unfortunately progressed from birds and waves to an impossible crescendo of ghastliness. A shrieking - screaming wall of noise that sounded like the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Foo Fighters and two dozen leopards being fed into a jet engine.
The only sounds that could be heard above this cacophony were the occasional detonations of mobile phones, pacemakers and hearing aids.
The man next to me really, really wanted to leave but the only way out was across the dance floor and he was just not brave enough. I rather suspect he was afraid of being felled by the Lizard as he dashed passed Marie.
At one stage Marie left the stage and walked over to the window, opened it and climbed out on to the window sill overlooking Schubertring. My neighbour cheered up visibly but I knew she was not going to jump – she is an old lady – she needed a breather – no one can be a shitting chimp for minutes at a time without a break.
She had a look at the traffic – drank a glass of water and hurled herself back into it.
The biscuit taker was that just before the end of the show Marie disappeared for a minute – put on a mask – lost her top and showed us her breasts.
Well – really – a woman her age should not display herself like that to complete strangers – although I must say – she is in remarkably good shape. I should look so good – although I would put my buns up against hers – figuratively speaking of course.
I haven’t been this glad to see the end of a dance performance since – oh – let me see - La la la Human Steps. This time my headache is worse.