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Flash 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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