Jonathan Burrows & Matteo Fargion: Counting to One Hundred & One Flute Note

Image credit: Herman SorgeloosImage credit: Herman Sorgeloos

I do not know the purpose of a review here. On stage are two men I respect and admire. They know what they are doing, and they don’t know what they are doing. They are working on it. I do not want to interfere. I will try to say only arbitrary things.

I have a habit of not reading programme notes and only picking up things from hearsay in the foyer – these pieces have not been shown together before, I hear. I don’t imagine them working so well separately, well, I cannot imagine One Flute Note working so well without Counting to One Hundred.

When entering a world, a relationship and a working practice so long-standing and profound there is both the immediate, quiet pleasure of witnessing such a relationship in action and the slow insight that emerges over the duration of the work. For me, these pieces are as much about watching this relationship, my curiosity about it and the way it reveals and holds these two men as much as it is about the composition in a technical sense. Maybe the composition is there to show this, maybe not.

I like seeing two straight middle-aged men holding hands and bowing heads. I like the way Matteo extends his left arm, held at a 90 degree(ish) angle stuck out from the side of his body, lowered from the wrist and waiting for Jonathan to take it in his own (I couldn’t help images of princesses in tall towers and knights springing to mind). I like the way that Fargion’s Italian-ness becomes a strategy for bringing colour to the pieces, brings in a personal element, and comments on Englishness.

I wondered about their process of making movement material – there were some great moves – Fargion’s limp wrists held by chest, chin raised, stuttering steps. The precision of Burrows’ movements caught me, “Oh yes, this man is a trained dancer”. I don’t know what this means exactly, what or why it changes anything but it does, this reminder. Maybe because it gives rise to the critical technical eye that sprouts from daily repetition of bends and extensions in front of mirrors, from attempting to understand epaulement physically… The distinction between the two – one is a music man, one is a dance man – is this something that is important for them to maintain? It begins to feel like these ‘roles’ or skills are an assertion of their individual identities and this I questioned.

This is not a review of One Flute Note but I want to say that Jonathan suppressing delight and shouting “One dub siren” brought me a lot of joy.


Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion will present One Flute Note, Counting to One Hundred, Cheap Lecture, Cow Piece and Speaking Dance at Dance Umbrella. Visit the website for details.