“A joyful sweetness is in the air, I feel it the moment I arrive at the airport in Marseille. It is early July 2018. The captain addresses the passengers: »Smile! We have just arrived in the land of crickets«. And then we hear an imitation of the sound of a cricket coming through the speakers. Everyone laughs together. Marseille. My city, my home, my so many other things. A sleepless night. A twenty-hour journey and ...here I am.”
These are the opening words of Tania Alice's essay Solidarity dramaturgies. It is the outcome of the Tours de danse activity that she carried out together with an artist, Aziz Boumediene, aimed at participation of residents of the Bel Horizon block of flats in Marseille. Once again, the pilot puts up a show to make people laugh that lets the Brazilian artist feel the unity with passengers, she knows she is home. The explosion of cheerfulness for a moment sets a platform of emotional flow, but not only that: it generates a special kind of understanding between people gathered in one place by pure chance. The laughter and solidarity intertwine here in a close relation.
Alice’s activity took place from 4 to 15 July 2018 and was video recorded by Daniela Lanzuisi. It entailed inviting Bel Horizon residents to dance together. Day after day the artist danced individually or in small groups successively with the neighbours, in their flats or outside in the halls of the block. Adults, children, families, friends living in the same stairwell: different set, different temperature of their co-existence. Sometimes they seem clearly embarrassed when dancing, slightly camera shy, other times you can see them totally relaxed, they enjoy the opportunity to show their body, movement and presence on stage.
In the sequences shot in the first days of the activity we can see how Tania Alice together with Aziz Boumedien and the caretaker of the building, Mr. Fortes, use a red tape to line the structure of the building on the window by the entry to the staircase. Nineteen rows represent nineteen floors, each flat is a separate window. The collage looks a bit like an advent calendar, which is an association Alice uses on purpose. In each field pictures will be placed: whenever one of the residents decides to have a dance, his or her portrait will be put in the appropriate cell of the net. Advent is a period of counting down the days according to the Christian liturgy: “a cheerful anticipation.”
Anticipation is what Alice has been experiencing from the moment she landed in Marseille. As she reports on her first morning, before the whole undertaking even begins, when she hears the city call, and each step feels like creating space, Tania Alice expresses a specific kind of tension that she experiences. It is a kind of excitement that makes you move from the usual everyday energy towards an intensified, concentrated dynamics of the performance art. The artist describes the moment she has the first look at the architecture of the building. “A tower! […] I feel moved, as if I was about to have my first kiss. Making a performance is like being constantly two seconds away from your first kiss, and from all the next ones that follow. Is performance a dramaturgy of the first kiss?” This comparison points not only to the specific state of the performer starting her action. This state involves trembling muscles, a decision to get involved, a leap into the unknown, excitement. In the description it is also a clue that lets us understand what the relations she is about to trigger during her project will be about: about being ready, feeling of getting closer, catching moments of understanding, tension on the verge of intimacy and adventure. This fleetingness and intensity of relations is a characteristic that yet again reveals the nature of solidarity as a performance. It is created in consolidation, in common adventure, in moments of unusual contact, when unexpectedly a channel of understanding opens.
This excerpt is from a paper based on the action research carried out by an international group of researchers and artists across Europe in 2018 as part of the Culture for Solidarity project. You can now access the final version of this participatory-action-research in both English and Polish. Soon we will also publish the Spanish version.