FTA : Multitud

Dancers throwing clothing Multitud. Place des Arts.

The FTA shows often sell out, so it’s a treat that one of its offerings this year is a free production of Tamara Cubas’ Multitud in Place des Arts’ Espace Festival. Reminiscent of last year’s Creation Destruction, this show utilizes a massive team of 75 dancers of different ages and backgrounds who go from motionless to semi-coordinated running and group movements, taking cues off one another.

Dancers crawling
Multitud. Place des Arts.

The dancers begin by standing as if marking random points on a grid, lit by lights that strobe on and off as sonic sound pulses. Suddenly one dancer after another falls to the ground while others stay standing. Are they meant to be shot? sleeping? A few start to run back and forth, forming clusters of two or more. Soon, all take to running, slingshotting one another across the space, with larger groups gathering in the corners. They catch and release from these pockets of safety, continuing in this manner. With no words, no costumes to truly speak of, the meaning is left to the viewer. Are they children at play? Countries? Unstable Electrons in search of orbits? Perhaps they nomadic wanderers finding places to pause, or are they animals?

The ceaseless running takes on a new tenor as the music changes. They grab clothing off one another, almost like a mob looting. They steal a shirt, a pair of pants, sneakers. The multitude are soon mostly stripped to their underwear and all come together flinging garments about into the air. It doesn’t seem especially ebullient. What comes to my mind is excess, consumerism, capitalism. Although I also contemplate that removing clothing strips us of all artifice. Nudity is vulnerable, but also closer to one’s core. Seeing the variety of bodies of all ages and sizes is hypnotizing in a way. It’s impossible to look away.

dancers crawling
Multitud. Place des Arts.

Without their clothing, and a new set of sonic laser sounds, dancers lay down, collapsed as if dead. Gradually, as if revitalized, some start zombie-crawling over the others. The automaton makes its way across the space, climbing over each other again and again, animal like. Finally, in the corner, they form a writhing mass of human flesh and limbs that eventually just rolls over itself, again and again, and again. It is like a Hieronymus Bosch painting come to life.

group of partially dressed dancers
Multitud. Place des Arts.

The dancers eventually one at a time come to stand in a row before the audience, their faces serious, their bodies still. One can only applaud at how the hour and a half of semi-spontaneous, semi-guided movement can evoke so many possibilities.

Cubas is a political activist, and so it’s hard not to read contemporary world events into this piece. That is part of its art. When performed in 2022, the viewers connected it to COVID. Performed in 2024, I immediately read global warfare into it, seeing the dancers as civilians impacted by bombs and lack of safety. However, Cubas has focused more on the piece as being about agency, dissidence, and collectivity. Though many others sense liberation and joy in it, I didn’t get any sense of euphoria out of this work at all. Rather, I saw contained chaos and madness. To me, this piece was defiant, angry, a protest. But perhaps that comes from the dancers’ choices and undoubtedly the mood of the places where the show takes place.

Multitud is a spectacle that will intrigue and provoke thought, which is more than enough to warrant viewing.

Multitud is at Place des Arts Espace Festival as part of the FTA on May 23, 24, and 25 at 9 p.m. Info HERE.

About Rachel Levine

Rachel Levine is the big cheese around here. Contact: Website | More Posts