April 3, 2021 8:36 PM   Subscribe

Celui Qui Tombe -- six people on a rotating platform.
posted by dobbs (33 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
That was good!

I feel very nitpicky in saying that there was a bit at the end there that took me out of it, but I suppose it's difficult to appreciate how hard it is for people who are extremely good at something to convincingly pretend, even briefly, to be not good at it. I see you, professional dancers with incredible balance and coordination, pretending to trip over yourselves. But you look great doing it.
posted by mhoye at 8:50 PM on April 3 [3 favorites]

Amazing. I cannot imagine learning this piece. Or practicing it. But watching it? Yes.
posted by njohnson23 at 8:53 PM on April 3

This was wonderful, thank you very much.
posted by wyndham at 10:04 PM on April 3

Now I want to see a version of this with four human performers and two fully autonomous Boston Dynamics Atlas machines.
posted by flabdablet at 10:15 PM on April 3 [8 favorites]

So... they'll never be able to take off, right?


Okay, real question, though: if the lights were on in that room, and you could see anything stationary beyond the platform, would it be possible for someone to do all that without their brain telling them to fuck right off and mashing all the VOMIT IMMEDIATELY buttons it can find in its little body control room? Or is there some other reason this is a lovely thing and not a scene from The Exorcist?
posted by whatnotever at 10:41 PM on April 3 [5 favorites]

I want to see Ginger Rogers do it, backwards, and in high heels
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 12:12 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]

I don't want to detract from what is obviously an incredible physical performance (indeed, one whose ending conveyed in intense sense of peril I'm not accustomed to experiencing when viewing contemporary dance), but I can't help but wonder about whether there might have been another, more relevant musical choice.
posted by belarius at 12:28 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]

That was great! I recall from playground experiments in my youth that extended spinning will cause you to lose your balance and comically fall onto the gravel, so it’s very impressive that these dancers kept it together to the point where one could actually run between their colleagues’ sprawled limbs without stomping their ankles or kicking their faces. Especially loved the part where they were out on the edge and taking full advantage of the centripetal/centrifugal force (please don’t respond with the XKCD comic).

I agree that the music choice seemed inapt. Was this piece part of a larger context in which the song made more sense? No one on that platform was doing it their way. My tubedubber choice would probably be Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere.”
posted by ejs at 1:05 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]

Rarely wake before sunrise but the house was dark and after puttering with the lights out gave up on re-snooze so opened mifi and this in the dark. Amazing. Really badly want to do that. Be there.
posted by sammyo at 1:54 AM on April 4

That was fantastic!
I wish I could have enjoyed it more. Watching things like that, or vids of people and heights tells my brain to fall down.
posted by james33 at 5:58 AM on April 4

I’ll be the contrarian (so far) and say I liked the music, even though I’m not a big Sinatra fan. I thought the lyrics reflected how the dancers seemed to compete against each other, then evaluated, the came together, then in pairs that seemed to best take advantage of the physics of the stage, but that they ultimately separated back into doing their own thing, even if that meant jumping over the bodies of their colleagues in the end in some kind of eternal rat race. You know, like life.
posted by grimjeer at 6:00 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]

i am surprised that no one has remarked that there are no visible minorities,

and at one point they seem to pair off heterosexually.

a sign of the times i guess
posted by lurkernomore at 6:10 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]

While France has its own problems with race, I don’t know that it’s wise to place American expectations of diversity to a European production.

This was great by the way. Going from something that looked chaotic to something clearly choreographed was really cool.
posted by mikesch at 7:00 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]

They also grouped up men and women, and were at many points random mixed groupings. So what?
posted by Meatbomb at 8:10 AM on April 4

Contemporary dance, like ballet, is a largely ethnoculturally-specific art form. The absence of dancers of colour in this piece, as in many other companies and works, is depressing but not surprising.
posted by sixswitch at 8:25 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]

Meatbomb, I believe they mean that the performance seemed heteronormative. Like much of the world. Which was one of my first thoughts, and one of my fiancée's first thoughts, about it. I wasn't going to mention it. Lurkernomore did. That's all.
posted by tigrrrlily at 8:27 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]

I thought the music was fine - I interpreted the piece as all about life. Being young and bewildered, learning to run forward, learning to care more about those around you, pairing off a few times to, and then trying to outrace death, which will always get you in the end.
posted by kimberussell at 8:49 AM on April 4 [10 favorites]

So I'd like to know:

1. Was the rotational velocity constant? (I would say yes, which means the speeding up and slowing down of the action was all on the dancers, which is impressive)
2. When they did the lifts near the end were they using force & balance only, or was the speed of the rotation enough to actually create enough centrifugal force to allow them to lean in and lift someone and make it look like they were off their center of (normal) gravity?

this was cool.
posted by chavenet at 9:26 AM on April 4

So glad this has resurfaced. I absolutely adored it but I lost the link ages ago,
I think I remember reading that they were all trained acrobats (or trained in acrobatics)?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:35 AM on April 4

was the speed of the rotation enough to actually create enough centrifugal force to allow them to lean in and lift someone and make it look like they were off their center of (normal) gravity?

Looking like they're off their centre of (normal) gravity comes from being off their centre of (normal) gravity.

Being at rest with respect to the rotating platform puts the performer in a gravitational field with a component directed away from the centre whose strength is directly proportional to the distance from the centre.

If the platform were not rotating, similar forces on the dancers' feet at point of contact with the platform could be had by making the platform into a hill whose steepness increases as you leave the centre. It wouldn't be fully equivalent, because the gravity due to rotation acts in addition to that due to the mass of the Earth, but it should be possible to make a shape equally likely to promote slipping.

So doing those lifts on the rotating platform is similar to doing them on a steep slope from the dancers' point of view. But the steepness of the slope isn't visible; it manifests as the steepness of the angle at which the dancers find themselves leaning in toward the centre in order to maintain balance.

What's weird about a movement-induced field like that is that it varies hugely according to the dancers' movements with respect to the floor. In the extreme case, where they're all matching the platform's rotation in reverse, the rotation-induced field goes away altogether and the floor becomes effectively flat again.

All of which is independent of the merry hell being played in their semicircular canals by Coriolis forces as their heads move. That woman who managed to stay upright while jumping over her collapsed companions and not stomping on anything too vital is just astonishingly good at navigating weird gravity.
posted by flabdablet at 9:48 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]

"“Life is like the big wheel at Luna Park. You pay five francs and go into a room with tiers of seats all around, and in the centre the floor is made of a great disc of polished wood that revolves quickly. At first you sit down and watch the others. They are all trying to sit in the wheel, and they keep getting flung off, and that makes them laugh too. It's great fun.

You see, the nearer you can get to the hub of the wheel the slower it is moving and the easier it is to stay on. There's generally someone in the centre who stands up and sometimes does a sort of dance. Often he's paid by the management, though, or, at any rate, he's allowed in free. Of course at the very centre there's a point completely at rest, if one could only find it; I'm not very near that point myself. Of course the professional men get in the way. Lots of people just enjoy scrambling on and being whisked off and scrambling on again. How they all shriek and giggle! Then there are others, like Margot, who sit as far out as they can and hold on for dear life and enjoy that. But the whole point about the wheel is that you needn't get on it at all, if you don't want to. People get hold of ideas about life, and that makes them think they've got to join in the game, even if they don't enjoy it. It doesn't suit everyone."

Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall
posted by BWA at 10:05 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]

Echoing two themes that have been mentioned: grimjeer’s note about this being a touching and poignant allegory of the human life / rat-race.

And lurkernomore’s note about the heteronormativity. I was hoping, at one point, there would be a same-sex couple embrace.

I was also struck by the point in the performance when they all lined up. The man who had the privilege of standing in the middle had to exert almost no effort to maintain his position, whereas the further out along that line, the harder and faster people had to work just to keep up. It occurred to me that it’s a good allegory of privilege. Some people, due to birth or luck, find themselves in the center, while others are on the edge, and just to maintain parity in progress implies a vastly different amount of work.

As an interesting option, I’d like to see a recording of this from a camera suspended above the rotating stage, which is rotating in sync. In the rotating frame of reference, you wouldn’t see the rotation that imparts the centripetal forces on the dancers. You’d just see the effects. As in society, often the forces are invisible, and we only get to see the effects.

This was a thought-provoking work of art, definitely.
posted by darkstar at 10:32 AM on April 4 [6 favorites]

When I saw Hamilton I noticed there was a moving (not at all like this) platform as part of the set. I thought to myself - that would require a lot of brain training to not just fall off while also speaking lines or singing. This reminded me of that. Also The Rotor at Cedar Point (even though it is even less like that.)
posted by 41swans at 10:34 AM on April 4

This made me cry.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 11:17 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]

I was faintly queasy just watching it.

Anyone have an idea of how fast the platform was actually turning?

In the bit where the men were holding the women and the women's legs were drifting outwards, it seemed to me that would take a fairly fast rotation, but maybe the dancers were adding to the effect.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 12:10 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]

This is wonderful! Haven't seen something that's so dangerous, fun and whimsical in a while.
posted by storybored at 12:10 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]

I'm put in mind of the 1989 academy award winning short Balance on a couple levels.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:40 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]

you wouldn’t see the rotation that imparts the centripetal forces on the dancers

posted by darkstar at 4:18 PM on April 4

The force that the rotating platform applies to the dancers in order to make them rotate along with it is centripetal (inward-directed). The equal and opposite reaction force that their feet apply to the platform is centrifugal (outward-directed).
posted by flabdablet at 1:46 AM on April 5

BrotherCaine, I thought of Balance, too, like immediately.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:35 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]

by Yoann Bourgeois, who has other similar works. I think Passants is quite interesting.
posted by backsaw at 5:43 AM on April 5

RE centrifugal vs centripetal, there’s (always) an XKCD for that.
posted by darkstar at 7:32 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]

That was thoroughly amazing, and possible the most difficult dance performance I've seen. (Seriously, can you imagine even trying that?) The metaphor for life was clear, and I thought the music emphasized that theme. So much of life is about coming together and moving apart, sometimes casting about on one's own and something helping others, sometimes aligning and sometimes falling and tripping over one another.

I noticed the lack of diversity and the heteronormativity. The diversity issue may be about this particular company. My son is a contemporary dancer currently applying to colleges, so I've become immersed in this world, and most of it is pretty diverse. The heteronormativity was unfortunate, and I wish there had been a couple same-sex pairings here and there, but it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the piece.

Thank you for sharing - it's a thoroughly affecting piece and the dancers were fantastic.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:16 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]

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