Distant Matter (2019)

Distant Matter is a new creation by Anouk van Dijk for the Staatsballet Berlin, as part of a double bill with Sharon Eyal's Half Life.

Overlapping scenes show solos, duos and groups operating under a succinct sense of time, which determines both the pace of movement and a sense of reality. Our eye might linger with one individual whilst others are speeding past. By following the one, we might miss a significant change, and find ourselves in a new situation. Unfolding right in front of our eyes, unnoticed.

Over time props are introduced and disappear, sometimes hardly noticeable. The props anchor shifts in meaning and pace of the work. The helmet, the veil, a Mickey Mouse cap, the monster, which could be hinting social class, cultures, eras, nostalgia, future warnings.

Costumes change from the grotesque to the minimal, and vice versa. People come and go. A catwalk. A Parade.? A thoroughfare. A portal.

Circular movements rippling through every joint in the body, creating intricate forms of communication. Inwards, outwards, interlinking with others, spinning one’s self out of control. Juxtaposing a strong linear space.

Highly fleeting duets are replaced by downward wrestling encounters. Indirect communication turns into light entertainment. Distractions. Fencing off. Isolating. Intimate connections that are not lasting.

Sensual. Highly physical. Evocative encounters. Unexpected spectacles. Hungry for attention. Resistance. Surrendering. Joy. Pain. Eagerness. Curiosity. Being lost. Like being lost.

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Noise in the periphery, the stuff we are not part of but we know of, and that we feel we should actually take responsibility for, but don’t know how. A constant stream, be it in our brain or on our news app. As a response we filter all these impressions, images, information, and compress them in new, non-existing worlds to make sense of it all. We shape imagined realities where insignificant things blow out of proportions and important matters become buried under a blanket of distractions. As we are smack in the middle of it all, we don’t even know that we are filtering things out, let alone what. It just happens along the way, until a distant future arrives suddenly on our doorstep uninvited. And we wonder why we did not see it coming. Climate change, a break up, a government overrun, a viral outbreak.

Dancing can be a bit like that, where we hover from well-rehearsed illusions to unforeseen mountains, from obsessing about that one particular touch, to sensing our whole lives ash in front of us in moments of sheer exhaustion. Distant Matter is about these real felt, truly imagined, highly triggering experiences where a significant moment could evaporate in an instant. Blink and you have missed it. Now you will have to compose a new reality instead. Welcome to a world crafted of real-lived illusions. You are your own editor. You make up your mind, your imaginings. You could be wrong, but it is yours.


Concept and choreography Anouk van Dijk
Performance Dancers of the Staatsballett Berlin
Costumes Jessica Helbach
Stage and ight design Paul Jackson / Anouk van Dijk
Composition Jethro Woodward
Assistant to the choreographer Tara Jade Samaya / Niharika Senapati
Photography: Jubal Batista