a Dance Mag, #2
It’s been almost a year since the first a Dance Mag caught our attention, and the second impresses again with its new theme Furor – a sudden expression of excitement or anger.
The decision to explore this ‘fire within’ reflects the outward-looking dance magazine’s philosophy of unity – that they are trying to use dance to counteract polarisation in our turbulent world. The word itself expresses a moment of feeling that collectively bursts forth, like a dam breaking, and the editorial further expresses the translation of that into dance. ‘Duende’ – used in Flamenco terminology – refers to a state of being that reaches beyond talent and technique.
A state that embodies ‘a force that belongs not to him or her but to nature’. This, then, is where this issue begins – an embodied expression of the narratives that are too forceful to even put into words. And yet, put them into words they must, because this is a magazine and not a show.
Colour plays a huge part in the expression of the theme, though. Where the last magazine used a vivid yellow to express movement across and through the text, this issue uses combinations of red and forest green to reproduce a less abstract run of images. Depending on how the colours are either overlaid or combined, there is a range of emotions on the anger-violence-fear spectrum that are expressed, for example the cover page for ‘Bless Me Mother with Your Rage’ by Stella Penzo is all the more evocative for the way that, in overprinting a flat red with the negative image of four dancers in green, the jarring colour combination exacerbates their bared teeth and wide-open eyes (above).
Nearer the end of the magazine, for the piece ‘Waro, the Bastard Hero’, penned by the editor Jana Al-Obeidyine, the volcanic nature of the master musician at the heart of the story is demonstrated with a red highlight filing in the gaps on the otherwise tonal ‘greenscale’ of the photographs (above). It’s exactly the same ink as everywhere else in the magazine but has a completely different effect.
Elsewhere, I enjoyed the playful way that red text swoops down in a semicircle around Zena Takieddine’s ‘Samt’ (above), and the layered writing-drawing accompanying Zéna M.Meskaoui’s ‘Re-Pairing’, which does that job of equating physical learning with language through the struggle to write and dance again after a stroke (below).
We wrote about the physical format and graphic layout of the first issue and this one follows the same format, except in a couple of places where the text and image are a little more free-flowing and switch places, like in ‘Negative Spaces’ by Mays Al-Beik, which works well with the more poetic submission, and allows the text to dance on the page itself (above).
Poetry plays a big part in this issue, which works well to express the inexpressible nature of the theme, alongside more narrative pieces, such as ‘The Unarmed Witness’ in which the human experience of the Syrian War is explored through theatre.
Overall, the Beirut-based magazine looks mostly to the East for its writers and references, which is a welcome interruption to our often Western-centric way of thinking about ourselves in our bodies in the world. The way it brings together dance, movement, politics, spirituality and Furor, is fascinating, and a triumphant second issue.
Editor-in-chief: Jana Al-Obeidyine
Art directors: Timo Durst & Max Weinland