Exploring the relationship between physical locations and the art of memory, Argentinian-born Berliner Constanza Macras and Dorky Park’s bizarre dance spectacle The Past proves to be both thought-provoking and absurdly entertaining, with Macras’ well-established combination of a philosophical script paired with the signature oddities of her routines.
The hulking multi-storey set starkly symbolises the theme of location, acting as the backdrop for the opening scene in which a contorted body emerges from a bag to an eerie violin solo. This style remains fairly constant throughout, with the performers constantly writhing and tumbling with one another in peculiar yet impressive ways whilst both interacting with the structure and freely moving about the open space in the foreground, all to Oscar Bianchi’s intensely atmospheric score.
We hear characters’ past reflections – mostly involving their childhood homes and towns – including an account of the bombing of Dresden which recalls disorientation when searching for family homes amongst the rubble and destroyed architecture.
Paired with a discussion on the art of memory, or ars memoriae – the techniques by which we organise memories – the importance of physical ‘loci’ in our own recollection processes is presented as vital to longevity and clarity.
The production culminates in a repetitive, jerky dance solo in which the dancer swings a small handbag around whilst battling with a wind machine. The bag is eventually released, perhaps symbolising the letting-go of the physical, which is abruptly followed by the dance ceasing.
Although some of the routines verge on being so bizarre that symbolic interpretation is shrouded by the limitless connotations, the well-informed script brings what may seem abstract back into the realm of expressionism, effectively demonstrating the points raised in the philosophical narrative.
THE PAST Jan 29-30, 20:00