Peter Pleyer’s triton tanzt.twisted trident

Dock11, Berlin
May 11, 2019

Veronica Posth

Peter Pleyer’s triton tanzt.twisted trident starts in the courtyard of Dock11, where he gives some information about the upcoming show that will take place in the next door studio transformed for the occasion. He tells us that contemporary dance is the culture he belongs to, that the show will be interactive and of a journey in Ponderosa he did many years ago, where he experienced a shamanic treatment from where comes the ‘ASH ROSE WATER’ that’s printed in coloured capital letters on his t-shirt.

In the studio-theatre, the beginning is welcoming and humorous, recalling something akin to the start of a contemporary class. He asks questions to then select two groups. ‘Who is vegetarian? Who is not? Who is over 25, 35, 50? Who earns more the 800 euros? Who has cross-dressed? When the audience are asked to fire questions, some of them turn out to be awkward. People complain or don’t respond. Pleyer has lost control but still he moves on with nonchalance. Are his questions meant to be provocative? And is the ‘yes/no’ alternative a way to underline the negation of classification and labels taboo in the queer world? Or is it all just contradiction?

Pleyer is a big guy, in his 50s, pretty relaxed with a friendly attitude. In T-shirt and leans, he starts a moving-releasing-talking session. Like a slow snake on a smooth surface, he slides gently on the parquet. He tells us he is gay, talks about his dancing studies, impactful meetings with Deborah Hay and Steve Paxton, his connection to the Frankfurt Ballet of Forsythe, before opening magazines that inspired his last work, underlining how fashionable queer is nowadays.

Then, and now in an elegant suit, lace panties, high heels and a mask with attached a long, light pink woolly wig, he dances casually to a techno track. His clumsy spiralling around the room appears improvised. Is it meant to be funny or dispiriting? Some giggle, some fidget, some just look perplexed.

Naked, six volunteers paint meridians on his body before he dons a sporty outfit and long ponytail and dances round the audience yet again. We observe. We ponder.

References to Camille Paglia, Bruno Latour, David Wojnarowicz, Diane Torr and Doran George suggest lots of meaning but the work struggles for depth. Maybe Pleyer considers that everyone knows those he refers to. Certainly, the performance doesn’t give away any information or knowledge, instead prompting speculation.

The outfits Pleyer wears and the set would be probably defined as queer. But most of all, what one sees is a patchwork of creativity melded into an art performance that has some dance but mostly plays around the dismantling of the show itself.

Pleyer’s approach to the work appears effortless. At times, as he improvises away, he even seems to be there by chance. It’s peculiar and somehow disappointing but it does make one think about forms creativity can take and what can be (and is) perceived as dance. The multifaceted and constantly changing identity of performances is indeed enthralling. Whether to see triton tanzt.twisted trident as a ‘dance’ piece or not, depends on the viewer, although such definitions are increasingly difficult.