Bizar relation between movements and words
Six dancers contemplate life and work during a final applause
Mirjam van der Linden

It is the most prolonged bow ever. It lasts for more than an hour, because movements are extremely slow and the performers, encouraged by applause on tape, come back on several occasions. In the imagination it even covers an entire life, thanks to the fact that the dancers/actors in their thoughts and texts make large jumps in time.
The six performers in Ivana Müller’s Playing Ensemble Again and Again play six performers who contemplate all sorts of things while saying good-bye to the audience. The performance they have just given, their career, their life. At first sight they form a homogenous ensemble: they are equally tall, wear the same everyday clothes and have pretty much the same experiences while on tour. And nevertheless this unity is just appearance.
Every slowed down burst of breath, smile, glance, arm swing, nod with which the head bows down or hand that takes hold of another hand, looks different every time because no one’s physique is the same. On top of that, they give away a scale of emotions. Not only tension, passion, joy en pride, but also arrogance and jealousy, resignation and sorrow. Katja Dreyer, Karen Røise Kielland, Bojana Mladenovic, Pedro Iñes, Daniel Almgren-Recén and Rodrigo Sobarzo show an incredibly controlled and refined expressiveness. It is a language of the details, which requires precise looking and listening. In itself rather difficult, but Müller doses her information in such a way that one is completely sucked into her world.
Müller is part of the collective of makers LISA, that has been catching the eye for several years now and often chooses the analysis of theatrical processes and the shaping of meaning as a topic. Not by way of navel-gazing, but communicative, original and well thought-out and executed. The Croatian Müller is an international favorite.
In her previous production, While We Were Holding It Together, the performers were mostly standing still and yet these static poses invoked beautifully varied images due to the texts that rolled out of the bodies.
In Playing Ensemble Again and Again Müller does something similar. This time displacement is allowed, but in slow-motion. Once again a bizarre relation arises between movements and words. There are clearly two severed layers of meaning, that nevertheless remain connected through that one body and that one stage.
From the physical point of view apparently almost nothing and always the same happens; in words we travel to-and-fro, in memories and dreams of the future. That eternal smile on faces therefore says nothing about the thoughts behind it.
The beauty is that because of this process layer gradually a touching sketch outlines itself. Of a group of soul mates that gets older en has to say good-bye to the profession and to time spent together. On to the loneliness that, in a way, was always there.

Published in De Volkskrant, NL,  2008