German choreographer Kurt Jooss made his last piece Dixit Dominus in 1975 as a gift for Swedish-based Indian dancer Lilavati Häger, who gave it to Rani Nair to reconstruct in 2003. Future Memory (2012) re- turns to Dixit, this time focusing not on the choreography but on the stories around it. It is a second-order performance — a performance about a performance — that uses the personal responsibilities of inheritance to move towards larger questions of history, memory, and legacy. A review from the premiere described it as combin- ing “Humor, warmth, and intellectual sharpness, all in one.” With a combination of gentleness and challenge, Future Memory embraces the possibility of an alterna- tive history, one in which a “minor” dance takes ten years of another artist’s life, and where insider and outsider are more complicated than we might think. Here both identity and dance history are understood not in terms of Indian versus Western European, but in a hybrid way that uses real and imagined archives to allow for shades of Indianness, Swedishness, and Germanness. Nair’s one-hour solo uses dance, spoken text, film, and singing in more and less spectacular forms. There are moments when audiences are invited to touch and smell. And there is a duet between a hair-dryer and a costume that was never worn in performance.
Press photographer: Imre Zsibrik Production: Rani Nair, Anna Thelin
Dansstationen, Malmö, December 2012 Lunds Konsthall, Lund, December 2012 Performing Arts Biennal, Jönköping, May 2013 Festival of Dance and Cultural Heritage, Skånes Dansteater, Malmö, October 2013 The Royal Institute of Arts, Stockholm, October 2013
The House of Dance, Stockholm, March 2014 Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance, Salzburg, May 2014 IGNITE! Festival of Contemporary Dance, New Delhi, January 2015 ImpulsTanz Vienna, August 2015 Singapore International Festival of Arts, September 2015 Stenkrossen, Lund, May 2017
Warmest thanks to Gisle & Lea, Nasim Aghili, Richard Häger, Maria Naidu, Konst- tidningen Ful, Rayam Aljazairi, Sweet and Tender Collaborations, Sabinha Lagoun, Treffen Total, Cindy Mizher, K3 Kampnagel, Sandra Chatterjee, Marko Milic, Hanna Ljungh, Anna Grip, Linda Adami, Hanne/Bergen, Anna Jh Borstam, Amar Dueland
These multiple gifts were mirrored in the message around which Jooss themed the choreo- graphy: “What you take, shall be lost to you - what you give, will remain yours forever.” Nair toured extensively with the reconstruction, which was relatively faithful to the shapes and timing of the older movement with controlled doses of intentional and unintentional anachronism, presenting it, among other places, at Hanoi Opera House and the Centre National de Danse in Paris in 2005-06. Bengt Häger had told her “when you inherit the piece, you inherit everything [to do with the piece],” and yet, wearing Lilavati’s costumes, hearing stories about her, and attempting to do her movement felt at times farther from, rather than closer to Dixit Dominus and its original creators.
So Nair returned to Dixit Dominus in 2009 with Future Memory, this time focusing not on the choreography but on the stories around it. It is to some degree a second-order performance — a performance about a performance — but it is also a project about history and memory, and about the very personal responsibilities of inheritance and legacy that come out of the work itself, but which also surpass it. Whereas Nair had struggled earlier with Dixit Dominus’s ambiguous place outside the canon of dance history, Future Memory embraces the possibility of an alternative history, one in which a “minor” dance takes ten years of an artist’s life, and where insider and outsider are much more complicated than we might think. It is a piece in which tradition is configured in a more hybrid way; not Indian versus Western European, but multiple traditions that fix and release ideas of Indianness/Swedishness/Germanness through both real and imagined archives that are deeply unstable. In this way, Future Memory is based on a past that is not fixed, but rather one with which we constantly negotiate, and through those relationships open potential that builds into the future.
Featured in Media & Selected Press Quotes
“Future Memory (from 2012) is a layer- upon- layer choreography, a witty and profound dance performance which mingles with a discussion about choreographic heritage that is lively today.”
- Örjan Abrahamsson, Dagens Nyheter
“It is a gift to inherit something significant, but it can also mean a lot of pressure. You may even need to distance yourself and revolt [...]. And capture the time elapsed between the generations ... The dancer Rani Nair does all this in the solo ‘Future Memory,’ a wonderful, soul-searching, smart, funny and deeply personal act.”
- Anna Ångström, Svenska Dagbladet
“An unusual dance historical dialogue. Rani Nair’s way to confront herself as a dance historical heir resembles an artistic research project, which includes data collection, critical attitude and an exploratory form of work.”
- Malena Forsare, Sydsvenskan
“It is as if she creates a dance’s own “In Search of Lost Time” (after Marcel Proust’s famous novel) - but, in broken modernist form, more than futurism cubism, between humor and sadness, in her own style, which is con- stantly questioning itself, mirroring inward-outward.”
“A warm-hearted, humorous approach to a personality and her legacy, to the dance of another time and the reflection upon it that inheritance is not only a gift.””
“As with Jooss’s work, everything here must have the effect of being particularly simple, unpretentious, and as though improvised. Her ‘dialogue' with a haute couture outfit was especially inventive; she uses a hairdryer to make a dancing partner, into whom she breathes life through currents of air.”
“Nair sought to represent all the layers of her heirloom, which she performs not simply as reconstruction; instead she expands upon Häger and Jooss themselves.”