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Review 2, 12-1: Out of Body Experience
Waiting for the Dance with Emmanuelle Huynh
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2003 The Dance Insider
PARIS -- Half-way into
the Paris premiere of Emmanuelle Huynh's new "A Vida Enorme," I
thought I was going to have to pull a Denby (as in Edwin), reprising
the noted critic's review of a performance by the young Paul Taylor.
Responding to a piece in which (reportedly) nothing much happened,
Denby published a review in which the space where the review would
usually be remained blank. 30 minutes into Huynh's spectacle Thursday
at the Centre Pompidou, the co-presenter with the Festival d'Automne,
no dancers had appeared. Instead, we'd been listening to a sort
of dialogue between a man and a woman, in Portuguese and French
respectively, emitted from a giant speaker console in the midst
of a vast stage, while the lights went on and off slowly. This was
the first of two spectacles I would see this past weekend in which
a choreographer's or choreographers' 'recherches,' as the dance
creation process is popularly called here, had detoured far beyond
the plane of the body and its possibilities alone or with others
and into other disciplines where their footing was less sure, and
their research less original. As for Huynh's choreographic results
here, they didn't reveal anything I didn't already know.
When dancers Catherine
Legrand and Nuno Bizarro eventually showed up, their gold-painted
bare torsos, highlighted by Yves Godin's unimaginative lighting
scheme, couldn't give a sheen to Huynh's mundane movement scheme.
Each wearing blue jeans and far-away inside-themselves aspects,
Legrand and Bizarro danced in alienation apart, gingerly testing
their limbs as if just discovering them, him with articulated awkwardness.
They came together and, physically, anyway, explored the different
ways, often sexual, they could join: he placed his head on her crotch,
she lifted him with her head by his. He touched her there
with his flattened hand. Her response was degrees warmer than his
in the final duets, but essentially, these were the sort of 'so
close, but yet so far' type of alienated grapplings I've seen again
and again in post-modern dance concerts here and -- I'm over it!
Over it because at a certain point, rather than being an artistic-athletic
extension and expansion of what all bodies could theoretically do
(with facility and training), it becomes an abnegation of the body
and its natural responses as the rest of us know them. Unless I
am absolutely repulsed by the other involved, if I touch and am
touched by a partner as this couple touched each other, I would
respond with some kind of tremors. To see dancers who deny this
response is to see dancers that deny and repress the body, when
dance should be celebrating and extending it. Huynh's sole musical
choice consisted of extracts of David Bowie's "Heroes," played intermittently
and repeatedly. These are not my heroes.
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