By Donovan Roebert
The movement from one adavu to the next is always a fresh re-embodiment of a motion that is not only ancient but captive to stylization. It is a setting free of an imprisoned idea, a letting go of a captured unit of code into the forum of the vital, the liberation of a codified insight from the field of death into the pastures of the living. The dancer reaching from adavu to adavu is in this sense a partaker in the miraculous, a worker of the impossible act of transubstantiation, the dead letter re-made into living flesh.
The accomplishment of each adavu in its turn is recognized in the first place as efficient and in the second as efficacious. It achieves what it has set out to do both mechanically and artistically. In adopting the only form proper to itself it speaks itself into existence as much in the dancer’s presence as in the rasika’s. Its coming into being is a rebirth of itself as though it were being born for the very first time. This is why it touches the mind with the force of the really new, the really innocent, the as-yet-unsullied and inexperienced.
As a movement its aesthetic keynote is therefore one of poignancy. The slipping out of one adavu into the next is the discarding of one moment of life for another, a cycle of sudden births, deaths and rebirths. Between one adavu and the next the shadow of timelessness interposes itself. There is the faint anti-moment that cannot but occur before life in the form of the next adavu is resumed as a new beginning.
This anti-moment between adavus is the necessary abyss of meaninglessness in which every instant of meaning has its first cause. The adavu arising from its previous incarnation across the void of nullity is for this reason a thing of great beauty, like the fire-bird. In expressing itself as a recuperation from nothingness it reveals itself as the manifestation of primal beauty, as does every uttered word the very first time we speak or hear it. Meaning begins with beauty, is born of beauty, or else despair would never permit the notion of meaning to arise.
Every successive adavu is a movement then of beauty from which in the course of the dance meaning is given, taken and returned.
At the heart of each adavu rests an unfindable stasis, the anti-beauty whose own embodiment is neither in the static photographic moment, nor in the choreographic sign, nor in the stillness of the choreographer’s mind. Its essence is unfathomable formlessness. The word not only unspoken but unconceived. When it breaks forth then like sound from soundlessness it does so with infusive joy – the joy of the beauty that makes meaning not only possible but desirable.
The motion from one adavu to the next is therefore an exchange of one joy for another, and of meanings multiplied in every joyous nuance. To say this is of course to say that these movements are leaps from life to life, and in the highest sense.
Therefore the surge from adavu to adavu is also a thrust from light to light, one light being cast in the light of its predecessor and all acting in sequence to nullify the dark nothingness which is the seed from which they all proceed.
The blooming of every new adavu is also a succession of states known only by the adavu-light in which they are realized, made known and grasped briefly before being replaced by their nearest neighbour, the next adavu-moment emerging as the possible from the utterly impossible because utterly unknowable.
But why go on and on?
It should surely be clear by now that what I am saying is that the movement from one adavu to the next is a slowed-down analogy if not an isomorph for the much more rapid motions of human mentation, the flitting from sentiment to sentiment, idea to idea, riding on the adavus that are the transient forms of the formless mind in which they have their being.
The movements of dance, before they can ever be anything else, can only be something meaningfully more than themselves if they first align with the movements of mind, so that we can know them as indwelling and familiar.
Otherwise we would not recognize the adavus bending one after the other to retrieve one another. We would look on baffled and terrified, as if adavus were manifestations of the horror of insanity rather than the sane and well-ordered flux of loveliness that we instinctively know them to be.
The movements of one elegant adavu to the exquisite next are pre-eminently symbols of sanity and lessons in joy. I suppose one ought to be careful, therefore, to dance them aright, and to appropriate them purely.
And I suppose one ought to beware the dances of darkness whose aim is trance, the suppression of light and the confusion of ideation, sensation and senstiment. This is the other side, the moral side, of what classicism in dance has to teach us. Because the movement from one adavu to the next is also a step from clarity to clarity, from one state of sanity to another.
This is why we know the flow of the adavus as happiness, and not as absurdity or fear.