A rocking chair and a wooden bench are illuminated in the dimness of the theatre. One man sits holding his head on the bench; the other reclines in the rocking chair with a sombre expression. They are Gigi Caciuleanu and Lari Giorgescu, both subtle and full of graceful power. Immediately, they enter into a strange, hypnotizing series of forceful movements, discourse, and dance.
Caciuleanu, both choreographer and dancer, has fully taken upon himself the Dadaist tendency continuously to produce the unexpected. The music and dance of L’Om Dada excel in absurd humour, as does the apparently arbitrary relationship between the two figures. Dadaism here seems to be, as it’s always been, a specific medium of expression for the modern human experience. It was created for the very sake of asking questions, and the particular premise of this show triggers the impulse. How is such a performance born? Does Dadaism still have a place in our world today? Are we an extension of the Lost Generation, disorganized and uneasy? Romanians of today might embrace the analogy on considering their own political revolution (which took place in 1989) and in a world of increasing uncertainty they may not be the only nation to feel this way. Disturbing phrases such as ‘all of our actions are controlled’ confirm this. The performance’s nonsensicality opens it to psychological, social, and political interpretations. The choreography actually plays a secondary, understated role, seeming to act as a metaphor for the powerful emotions communicated.
The problem of what’s ‘lost in translation’ may have reared its head, in instances when the English translation projected onto the screen behind the dancers wasn’t capable of matching the beauty and richness of the Romanian and French script, which read like poetry: examples include ‘the poem will be like you’ and ‘the dream called ourselves’. These sublime phrases were communicated in the halted, weighty syntax of the surreal, and this evidently was a game of comprehension for the non-Romanian speaking audience. Interestingly, speakers of Romanian, of English, and of French had very different experiences and impressions. As the silly phrase called out by Caciuleanu and Giorgescu – ‘Da! Da! D’Avignon!’ – suggests, the relationship between France and Romania is by no means dead.
ICR director Dorian Branea made a thought-provoking claim when he said, ‘Dada is related to the Romanian spirit: it is subversive, nihilistic, and full of humor’. ‘L’Om Dada’ was a success in capturing these elements of Dadaism and of an Eastern European spirit. The warm lights, the sound of clapping, and the electric atmosphere of triumph at the end of show seemed to transport one back into the 1920s.
L’OM DADA was produced at Sadler’s Wells on 26 September. Gigi Căciuleanu can be seen again in ‘One Minute of Dance’ at Sadler’s Wells on 23 October 2016, in an event supported by the Romanian Cultural Institute, London.