do you believe what you hear? do you hear what you believe?

Dance writer and producer Ian Abbott chronicles the origin and execution of an interview with ‘silence designer’ Marcel Zaes

words & silence from Bengaluru

  1. Ruhi Jhunjhunwala from Attakkalari contacts Marcel Zaes regarding FACETS 17 11:18AM, 18/11/2016
  2. IA arrives in India at Kempegowda International Airport 05:03AM, 02/02/2017
  3. “Silence Designer” appears in FACETS 17 printed programme 10:39AM, 04/02/2017
  4. Invitation for a conversation on his role with Korean choreographer Youngsun Kong 11:03AM, 04/02/2017
  5. Invitation accepted; date, time, location agreed 11:37AM, 04/02/2017
  6. Uber to Gurunank Bhavan for FACETS 17 Showcase 02 12:08PM, 05/02/2017
  7. Interview Marcel Zaes for 8 minutes 32 seconds 14:19PM, 05/02/2017
  8. IA: Can you talk about your role for FACETS 17? 14:19PM, 05/02/2017
  9. MZ: I have never been to India before 14:19PM, 05/02/2017
  10. Z: I have been asked to be a mentor/collaborator 14:19PM, 05/02/2017
  11. MZ: A double function which also made it quite intense 14:19PM, 05/02/2017
  12. MZ: I had to have this outside view of the pieces 14:20PM, 05/02/2017
  13. MZ: and also be inside with the choreographers 14:20PM, 05/02/2017
  14. IA: I’ve never seen the term Silence Designer 14:20PM, 05/02/2017
  15. MZ: I’ve never seen it before either 14:20PM, 05/02/2017
  16. IA: How did you arrive at that title? 14:20PM, 05/02/2017
  17. MZ: We came up with that title having one of those dinners in India 14:20PM, 05/02/2017
  18. MZ: Our collaboration was for a long time on the level of having 14:21PM 05/02/2017
  19. MZ: discussions and intellectual discussions about what is silence 14:21PM 05/02/2017
  20. MZ: She had her piece more or less done when it came to the question of sound 14:21PM, 05/02/2017
  21. MZ: We both agreed this piece doesn’t need any sound. It’s beautiful 14:21PM, 05/02/2017
  22. MZ: It’s beautiful in silence 14:21PM, 05/02/2017
  23. MZ: So we came up with what is silence and what is silence within a theatre 14:22PM, 05/02/2017
  24. MZ: Is not playing any music silence? Is it perceived as silence? 14:22PM, 05/02/2017
  25. MZ: Or is it rather perceived by the audience as not music? 14:22PM, 05/02/2017
  26. MZ: This is why John Cage performs his 4:33, he cannot just do nothing 14:22PM, 05/02/2017
  27. MZ: That wouldn’t work 14:23PM, 05/02/2017
  28. MZ: He needs a pianist to sit there to make the people perceive what he is hearing 14:23PM, 05/02/2017
  29. MZ: If we want silence in here we have to build up a lot of sound 14:23PM, 05/02/2017
  30. MZ: then cut it off and have people realise what sounds were going on in here 14:23PM, 05/02/2017
  31. MZ: That’s basically it. We worked with the sounds of the venue 14:24PM, 05/02/2017
  32. MZ: The fan, the fan, the hum, the buzz of the speakers 14:24PM, 05/02/2017
  33. MZ: I recorded all those sounds and I had a technician running through the space 14:24PM, 05/02/2017
  34. MZ: having him put the mic in front of the fan and stand on a chair 14:25PM, 05/02/2017
  35. MZ: but he couldn’t do that for seven minutes because of his arm 14:25PM, 05/02/2017
  36. MZ: She and I come out of a similar art environment, we know similar artists 14:25PM, 05/02/2017
  37. MZ: At Dia:Beacon, they have a major sound work by Max Neuhaus 14:25PM, 05/02/2017
  38. MZ: He designed this watch. His idea was why not mark the clock with silence 14:26PM, 05/02/2017
  39. MZ: We were pretty much on the same vibe with our references 14:26PM, 05/02/2017
  40. MZ: We could prepare nothing in the studio. We had this space since yesterday 14:26PM, 05/02/2017
  41. IA: Silence is sometimes used as punctuation. Is there punctuation here? 14:26PM, 05/02/2017
  42. MZ: That is a good question. That I actually honestly don’t know 14:27PM, 05/02/2017
  43. MZ: I don’t know how an audience in general would react 14:27PM, 05/02/2017
  44. MZ: There is a very low hum which is a recording I have not done in here 14:27PM, 05/02/2017
  45. MZ: It’s one I brought with me. An organ in a Gothic church in Switzerland 14:27PM, 05/02/2017
  46. MZ: The lowest pitch of the organ which is basically nothing more than air 14:27PM, 05/02/2017
  47. MZ: We had a hiss in the speaker system which we couldn’t get rid of 14:28PM, 05/02/2017
  48. MZ: It’s there in all shows but in all other pieces you wouldn’t notice 14:28PM, 05/02/2017
  49. IA: Did you map out a score for these 12-15 minutes? 14:28PM, 05/02/2017
  50. MZ: It was choreographed by myself with variables; I was not entirely in control 14:28PM, 05/02/2017
  51. Request for specific details on Marcel Zaes & FACETS 2017 13:41PM, 09/02/2017
  52. Transcribe, edit & submit to ligament.in 11:53AM, 09/02/2017
Ian Abbott is a producer and writer based in Scotland. He likes to make things happen using dance, words, art, and books. He can often be found rummaging in alternative fields of thought to translate, repackage, and enhance existing models. Twitter handle: @TheGeometrician

TABLE of Contents
The Biennial Issue: Part 2

As the Attakkalari India Biennial 2017 comes to a close, participants in the Writing on Dance Laboratory show us the festival in their words and images.

Zawirowania Dance Theatre’s Closeness
Swar Thounaojam

Playwright, theatre director, and performer Swar Thounaojam finds the Polish dance company’s trio work just bold and beautiful

The Time, The Times: A Dual Perspective
Dayita Nereyeth and Ian Abbott

Dayita Nereyeth and Ian Abbott take a collaborative stab at Time Takes The Times Time Takes choreographed by Guy Nader | Maria Campos to offer a fuller perspective on the work

Vacant Chairs Weigh Heavy With The Memories Of Everyone Who Has Sat On Them
Parvathi Ramanathan

Dancer and writer Parvathi Ramanathan reads through Fabien Prioville’s La Suite

Show Us Some Moves: Small and Silly Dances
Dayita Nereyeth

Dancer and writer Dayita Nereyeth gets the festival team dancing

do you believe what you hear? do you hear what you believe?
Ian Abbott

Dance writer and producer Ian Abbott chronicles the origin and execution of an interview with ‘silence designer’ Marcel Zaes

Review: Ronita Mookerji's Who?
Dayita Nereyeth

Dancer and writer Dayita Nereyeth reflects on this Bangalore choreographer and dancer’s latest work-in-progress solo

What Do We See And Feel While Watching Dance?
Himalaya Gohel

Dance researcher and PhD student Himalaya Gohel examines two works at the Biennial to talk of the audience’s role in the reception of each of them

When Does A Dance Piece End?
Sheetala Bhat

Actor and writer Sheetala Bhat analyses the relationship between performer, audience, and time through Mandeep Raikhy’s Queen-size

ShowReel : Bhinna Vinyasa
Darshan Manakkal

Bangalore’s Attakkalari Repertory Company presented Bhinna Vinyasa, choreographed by Jayachandran Palazhy, on Day 4 of the Attakkalari India Biennial 2017

ShowReel : Time Takes The Time Time Takes
Darshan Manakkal

Spanish choreographers MC Guy Nader and Maria Campos presented Time Takes The Time Time Takes on Day 5 of the Attakkalari India Biennial 2017

ShowReel : Liquido
Darshan Manakkal

Italian choreographer-dancer Luisa Cortesi and music artist Gianluca Petrella presented Liquido on Day 6 of the Attakkalari India Biennial 2017

ShowReel : Closeness
Darshan Manakkal

Poland’s Zawirowania Dance Theatre presented Closeness, choreographed by Tomas Nepsinsky, on Day 6 of the Attakkalari India Biennial 2017

ShowReel : La Suite
Darshan Manakkal

German choreographer Fabien Prioville presented La Suite on Day 7 of the Attakkalari India Biennial 2017


To pick up and run with a magazine that has had another life is never easy. There are those conflicting desires to find close continuity and to just scrap it all and start anew. Ligament 2016-17 reemerges from a half-way point. We want to build on the investigations and insights of the magazine’s past contributors and also find ways to say what they perhaps had wanted to say but could not, or forgot to, in that moment.

Ligament was founded to facilitate the articulation of an evolving language that encompasses the impulses of contemporary dance. The idea of “contemporary” is inherently bound to time, to a sense of history, rather multiple histories unfolding. In its 2016-17 iteration, we hope that Ligament can grapple with the idea of how dance might hold a place in-step with the patterns of active and forming histories, rather than remaining a canonised and pondered response to a bygone world. We’d like to embrace the immediacy of “contemporary”, and invite contributions from dancers, choreographers, arts practitioners, scholars, audience members, readers. In this way, we hope to reach for the intimacies, resistances, and fragilities that permeate the developing field of South Asian contemporary dance.

Articulating a medium as visceral, visual, and ephemeral as dance requires making connections to methods of thought and critique that lie outside evaluative language. So for Ligament 2016-17 we welcome, of course, the critical essay, but also audio, photographs, ekphrastic poems, interviews, and hybrid media of various kinds that might speak to us about dance, carefully and proximately. Like the anatomical connective tissue for which it is named, Ligament, we hope, can help us locate dance in tandem with the many bodies that produce and encapsulate it.

To those who find themselves here for the first time, welcome. And those whom we have met before, we are glad you are back.

—Poorna Swami, Editor

Get in touch with us at ligament@attakkalari.org