The Time, The Times: A Dual Perspective

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


The Guy Nader | Maria Campos quintet in Time Takes The Time Time Takes was the performance that we have been waiting for. 

A brief history of time, mechanical and otherwise.

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.” —Henry David Thoreau

The English word ‘clock’ is derived from the Middle English ‘clokke’, Old North French ‘cloque’ or Middle Dutch ‘clocke’, all of which mean ‘bell’. Bells were used to mark the passage of time. The verge escapement is the earliest known type of mechanical escapement and is the mechanism in a mechanical clock that controls its rate by allowing the gear train to advance at regular ticks. This caused a shift from measuring time by continuous processes, such as the flow of liquid in water clocks, to repetitive, oscillatory processes, such as the swing of the pendulum, which had the potential to be more accurate.

A brief history of TTTTTT, choreographic and otherwise

There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony. There is time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time.” —Coco Chanel

The two female performers from MC Guy Nader and Maria Campos’ Time Takes The Time Time Takes at Attakkalari India Biennial 2017 Darshan Manakkal

The history of time has been narrated by men and the telling of time has also been inscribed by men—Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Huygens, and Hawking. Fast forward to today, TTTTTT has been forged in the male and female eyes of Guy Nader and Maria Campos, by an ensemble of the two choreographers and three other dancers based in Barcelona, who “have collaborated together since 2006 developing strategies and tasks in order to provide the body a distinct image and perception”. They succeed and fail in this distinction. Those familiar with contact improvisation and contemporary dance will see a lot of existing exercises knitted together to create short phrases of movement masquerading as choreography. However it is their combinatory choices, how sections and energy flood, repeat, and bind together that provides distinct images. 

Themes of fluidity and change are pervasive through the piece. Fluidity in movement, time, balance, and relationships are mirrored in the flexible roles of dancers. The work is neutral but not indifferent to the gendered bodies on stage. While the five fairly similar costumes imply neutrality, the choreography does not attempt to provide absolute physical equality between bodies. All five dancers lift and get lifted. That said, the men and women do not necessarily do the same lifts. They acknowledge differences but do not excuse them.

In TTTTTT, control is held by the musician Miguel Marin—a sitting drummer with a depleted kit but with the addition of an electronic sound palette. Rather than acting as a metronome, Marin is the driving force. While acknowledging the ever-present musician, it is also important to note that the two female dancers on stage are almost constantly moving throughout the piece. Maria Campos forms the connecting thread, a malleable constant. At certain points, one or two men watch from the sides, but the women—even though they do have quieter moments—do not ever retreat to the periphery. In such a small company, this detail is amplified. Perhaps this choice is a conscious expression of the woman’s ceaseless function in society. The choreographers are responding to the skewed history of time, which favours men, by making women equally prominent. Other than this, gender-based differences in the performance do not really stand out. The performers are primarily human, charged particles with well-defined tasks and seamlessly fluctuating roles.

For sixty minutes our eyes are constantly fed by motion and stillness; an unceasing and merciless presentation of velvet lined movement. Spines kissing thighs, ribs nesting under armpits, and ankles cradled by palms. The performers make up the pliable cogs of shape-shifting machines, moving between rocking, ticking, swinging, and stillness; they are pieces in a game of three-dimensional Tetris. The sheer functionality of the movement in the work is extremely compelling. The dancers’ intentions are direct and clearly driven by task. They constantly negotiate and respond in the present and move through buoyant sculptures like clockwork. The choreography ruminates on motifs, whether in stillness, nuanced shifting, or assertive repetitions. At the heart of TTTTTT is play. The choreography is a form of calculated contact improvisation. The dancers feed off each other’s energies and they never mime touch and never touch mime.

Amongst the cast of five dancers we find balance, intricacy of touch, and sustained contact work that echoes the internal workings of the Breguet 160 (the world’s most expensive pocket watch). In the jumping shoulders, complicated limbs, and intimacy of the Ranga Shankara theatre we notice miniature errors. Misplaced hands struggle to find wrists to bind at first grasp, the muscle tremors as one bears the weight of two at awkward angles. We see the dancers’ eyes already preparing for the next two moves. It is here where TTTTTT resides. The dancers are not always in our present, but in their future—preparing for the next move and the safety of the next configuration. Concentration is etched on their faces while their bodies remain soft and pliant, ready to receive or eject the next touch. 

The constant shifting and negotiations between performers reveals a vulnerability, which has the simultaneous effect of inviting the viewer in and heightening the anticipation of watching the dancers’ precarious suspensions and explosive leaps. The dancers’ vulnerability is also evident in how, as the piece progresses, their energy reserves start to dwindle and they do not try to mask this change. Recurring images in the piece sear themselves in our memories, reminding us that the dancers change physically, emotionally, and energetically from beginning to end. 

The remembered residues are with us three days later. The work leaves itself on your skin, fills your eyes, and rumbles amongst the internal mechanisms of our minds. The dynamic energy and the familiar, temporal themes resonate in the abstract work and in our memories. 

Encounters are real. Time continues and these dancers are living.

Dayita Nereyeth is a dancer and writer currently based in Bangalore. She enjoys performing, conducting research on the mind and movement, doodling, and watching cooking competitions.

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