Everywhere and Nowhere at the Same Time

I went with a friend down to Brighton this weekend to see William’s Forsythe’s “Everywhere and Nowhere at the Same Time,” a choreographic object at the Brighton Festival.

The piece consists of 400 metal shapes hung from moving metal frames by thin, white ropes. The frames move about a foot every few minutes which causes the shapes to move in broad arcs with one another. There’s probably 20 or so on each frame, so you’ll get pockets of them moving together, but each frame is moving in a slightly different direction resulting in perfectly choreographed waves and sweeps where each pendulum goes its own way, but never touches its neighbor. The over all affect is quite stunning – an ocean of undulating points. Unlike the sea, they are connected above; it’s almost like looking up at the surface of the sea from below a wave.

The installation itself is mezmerizing, but it goes a step further. As a choreographic object, the audience is invited to enter the structure and move with it. There are a few rules: no bags – it’s just your body in there, and you must avoid hitting the pendulums.

nowhere and everywhere at the same time by william forsythe photo by will billany

photo by Will Billany

At first, you just run through the pendulums. It seems like a maze you have to get through as quickly as possible. But it’s not all that hard to just get through them. So then you start to slow down and find the most interesting route you can. I quite enjoyed swinging to the right with one and then taking a left turn around it and swinging to the left with its neighbor and so on – you can zig zag you’re way through the installation this way. But even that is pretty easy and doesn’t feel so dance-y. “I suppose this is dancing,” we mused. But we knew there was more.

The real fun was when we realized that it’s actually most enjoyable to really move with the piece; to let it inform your movements entirely. You don’t have much room to move your arms, so you can’t dance in the classic way you might be imagining. Instead you just stay with a group of pendulums and weave in between them, swinging with them, turning around them, moving forward and backward – you get completely sucked into this tiny moving world where everything is in a perfect flow. The longer you stay with a certain set of pendulums, the better you feel their rhythm and pattern, and the easier it becomes to stay with them and do more intricate movements – like turning backward around one or sliding between two as they converge.

You don’t get dizzy, you are just consumed by being in the flow and then you’ll get to the edge of the little group that you’ve been dancing with and suddenly you’re confronted with a totally foreign set of pendulums that are moving in a completely new way. It really throws you! You bump into them, you’re mind is scrambling to find the pattern, but you just stick with a few and you start to feel the new rhythm and you can dance with them again in perfect sync.

I loved it.

I posted the artist’s video a few weeks ago, which I highly recommend watching.