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Flash Review 1, 11-30: Finding the
In Search of Foreign Parts with Lynda Gaudreau
By Paul Ben-Izak
Copyright 2001 The Dance Insider
PARIS -- Unconsciously, 20 minutes
into Lynda Gaudreau's "Document 2" last night at the Theatre de la Ville/Abesses,
I reached my hand under my shirt and started rubbing my shoulder. This is not
an area of my body I normally dote on. But Gaudreau, as her research was carried
out in front of us by Sarah Doucet and Mark Eden-Towle(who with AnneBruce Falconer
also contributed to the research), was making me attend to parts of the body I
usually take for granted. This is what dance, and particularly modern dance, can
do when approached by a choreographer curious enough about that terrain, and executed
by dancers whose entire bodies are sensitized enough not just to feel the paces
they put them through, but to project those feelings to the audience.
In fact the dance starts with Eden-Towle
stripping to the buff and then, in full light, mapping out the large sheet of
paper with which more than half of the stage is covered. (If I'm reading my program
right, this section was integrated from a solo improvisation by Vincent Dunoyer,
the former Rosas dancer, called "Nudite.") He measures. He calculates. He assesses.
He tests, lying on his back and -- hey, I noticed it so I'm gonna be honest with
you -- with his penis pointed up. He pauses a moment, considering. Imagine if
you will, a giant twister board, but undelineated, unmarked, and Doucet and Eden-Towle
are charting it. White blocks of butcher paper are spread out throughout the evening,
but really, that's not what they're mapping -- it's the body, the corps.
(I know, many of you are probably
saying about now, "Well, DUH! Didn't he watch what we were doing in NYC?" Well,
yes, but being in a foreign-to-me place has sensitized me to things that I wasn't
so able to notice back home.)
But back to wasted body parts: Watching
all this, I thought: How much of the body do most of us really USE? 10 percent?
The rest being just carted around, a burden when it could be a playground? I'm
sitting at a keyboard now and exactly ten digits are active. The only mind I give
to the rest is that it not hurt too much; this I think is why we get ergo disorders,
because we have been taking our other body parts for granted, not mindful of their
comfort while we type away. (It's always a bit strange from me to switch back
and forth from watching the non-stop dancers, dipping and craning and swimming
and reaching, to the audience, we sitting there catatonic. Not really catatonic
-- we're thinking deeply -- but the rest of our bodies are not being employed.
And foot-tapping doesn't count, cuz that's just nervous energy that overloaded
from the brain.)
Back to Gaudreau: She doesn't expect
us to figure all this out without a guidepost; she gives us hints. In "Document
2," this chiefly comes from three films. Two of them are what might be called
truly pedestrian: In "Bowling," by Gaudreau and Marianne Halter, we see men, well,
bowling. The preparation. The slow strut into the lane. The release. The retrieval
of the ball from the chute. For many of us pedestrians, as far as extending our
usual use of the body, these are major strides, and I'm not being sarcastic. (In
a work seen at the same theater last year, Gaudreau showed a film of two men chasing
a girl who smoothly evaded them with her masterful dribbling of a basketball;
and another of some young men and an an older man in a race, he fast-walking it,
and continuing towards the finish line long after they were done.)
Later, we see, from the same film-makers,
some men playing petan, that game where they throw a bunch of large balls at one
small ball, to see who can get closest. This action was picked up on and extended
by the live dancers, who, in an expanded echo of the men grabbing at or releasing
the balls, plucked things from the air -- stars? -- jumped again and again in
the air (like an athlete's celebratory, "Yes!"), and grabbed at each other, or
batted each other.
The third film was from Thierry De
Mey, and was called "Musique de tables." Three men sit at tables, beating and
tapping and caressing boards that must be miked. It's both musical performance
and finger ballet. Here, contrasted with Gaudreau's full-body play, we have the
universe in fingers. Here I didn't quite get the relation, if any was meant, between
what we were viewing on three small screens and what came next from the live dancers.
As long as we're talking about miking,
Gaudreau has a tendency to over-fascination with this toy -- i.e. miking dancers
so their breathing, mutterings, gasps, grunts, landings, and banging of hands
to chest become the soundscore. After a while the effect loses its novelty, and
there's not enough novelty in the sounds created to hold interest without a more
complex score. Lynda Gaudreau's "Document 2" is performed again tomorrow at 3
p.m. at Theatre de la Ville/Abesses.
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