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The sounds that emanate from the dancers as they begin to crumble toward the floor spews from their bodies in loud painful moans; they reach upwards only to fall back to the ground. A unified group gesture—the initial formulaic but also functional gesture of French baroque declamation—disintegrates into disjointed formations and chaotic noise. Sounds echo off the small performance space, amplifying and confusing the tumultuous din. I do not know how or when the moans become words, but the words resist my understanding because they are being uttered in at least six different languages. Breath. Movement. Sound. Every relay between them starts out in a delicate gesture that is then vocalized, as it appears to fragment. I hear whispers and words out of context. Soon all of the dancers are in vocal spasm. I keep waiting for the music to begin to play.
It is the final showing of a voice and movement class in the dance M.A. program at Freie Universiteit, Berlin. Students are working with choreographer Mark Franko and his assistant Alessandro Rumié on the sonic elements of their own bodies to create a sound score in place of music. The fragments of sound found in Relay (2008) are artifacts. The dancers excavated text from various sources and in a variety of languages.
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