Ivana Kalc on The Cosmic Dust Practice

We are all like stardust
by Ivana Kalc


The romantically titled show The Cosmic Dust Practice is the second premiere during this year’s Ganz novi festival. Upon entering the great hall of &TD we are greeted by Pavle Heidler wearing Adidas sweat pants and a sleeveless shirt much too big and wide for his torso. In the middle of the room there is a projector, in the corner a projection screen, there is a counter for light and sound placed against the wall and the audience is seated in two fronts.

The author is patiently waiting for the audience to arrive and is then adjusting the lights himself, although it seems that he himself is unsure of the quality of light he wants. This act sets a comic tone for the remainder of the performance and informs us that we are witnessing an authentic, spontaneous moment unhindered by performativity and its rules. As was announced in the program booklet, the show really does encompass both talking and dance. In the beginning, the author welcomes us into his private, personal world via movement, showing us that he indeed has great mastery over his body, but does not indicate the motivation behind the movement itself. We still do not know what moves him, but are aware of the fact that the author is completely present with and in the action he is doing, while he is dancing, adjusting the lights and thereby performing between light and shadow. He is completely in the here and now.

Maneuvering between the technical demands of the performance, the scene and the choreography, the author entertains us with the ease of his humour and an astounding capability to completely immerse and dedicate himself to movement, only to leave it behind a second later or substitute it with another movement or action. Such as narration. So he informs us in English about how he wrote down a sentence he was immensely proud of for two minutes straight. Then he decided to rewrite it and after having read the new version, he realized that a further rewriting was in order. And it is precisely in this moment that we are taken by surprise due to the romantic thought about the ephemerality of the body in a moment of time and the attempt of capturing that moment during a performance. As the author himself states: every cell has its age, some are very old and some have only been born or…are in the process of being born! Right now! In this very moment!

Describing the physiology of breathing and our heartbeats, he turns the molecular processes into a performing act, which brings us back to the beginning of the play like a boomerang, which we now recognize as the author’s own need to grasp with his body that which he cannot fathom with his mind. Overwhelmed with the feeling that our entire corporeality is changing from moment to moment, along with the space around us and within us, the author dazzles us with his spontaneity and with allowing that the quality of his performance be only a product of the current situation. At times it seems as if he were trying to translate his train of thought about himself, as if he were looking at the conscious personal experience of himself as an ongoing series of physiological and emotional experiences, happenings.

The author’s ability to make us fascinated by these events lies in his natural charm and humour, which came to the fore many times during the performance, resulting in the audience’s loud laughter. The circular dramaturgy charmingly makes the performance a whole. And although it is both funny and light, it is as if it yearns for more content in regard to the composition. Staying mainly in the state of enchantment, the author offers us only signs regarding the enormity of the subject matter he is dealing with. We can hardly begin to grasp the wondrous grandeur of life in which in every moment our cells are departing from us and turning into dust…and are maybe reorganizing again into some new star or planet, perhaps a new life. That thought got lost somewhere among the layers of the performance, which gave off the impression of it (the performance) not having taken itself too seriously. Although, why be serious? Is it not better to approach things in a child-like manner, with innocence and naivete, playfully and without any unnecessary burden?

Maybe we are all born knowing the secrets of the universe and life itself, but forget them as we grow up. In that sense, this performance is perhaps a small encouragement to us all to try to remember. And feel.

translated from Croatian by Koraljka Suton


originally published in bilten_05