to you by
New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women
and girls. Click here to see a sample of our products and a
list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always performance at its best.
Go back to Flash Reviews
Review 1, 10-28: Mindfulness
Raising 'Cain' with Artus/Company Gabor Goda
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2004 Chris Dohse
New! Sponsor a Flash!
NEW YORK -- In Artus/Company
Gabor Goda's "Cain's Hat," seen October 20 at the Kitchen, four
actor/dancers engage in a series of impenetrable acts, sometimes
like a game of Mumbly Peg, where two participants see who can throw
a knife closest to the other's feet. A dare runs through these rituals.
Some kind of justice or possible reward might hang in the balance.
But their behavior seems driven by powerlessness and the panic and
fear that it causes.
Simple costuming and
props are manipulated to great imaginative effect to transform the
players into a multitude of characters; the stage often looks like
there are more than four bodies on it. The set is dominated by a
pile of rocks, laid into a rectangle about the size of a human grave,
into which metal poles the color of verdigris are inserted.
Hovering above all,
a fifth performer hums, mumbles, mutters and stutters. She seems
a sinister Mother Ginger; God knows what-all could be gathered under
her long ladder-like skirt. Is she a priestess or some kind of judge,
evaluating and commenting on the distant machinations of her busy
sycophants? Her polyrhythmic tones fall somewhere between the vocal
filigree of Meredith Monk and Diamanda Galas and sometimes approach
the vulnerability of Jane Siberry.
Even though the action
often depends on split-second timing and there are multiple opportunities
for things to fall apart, there's no particular thrill in it. The
next night at American Ballet Theatre, a certain male principal's
grip on his ballerina slips for a moment in Tudor's "Pillar of Fire,"
and this seems quite a bit more pulse-accelerating. Or perhaps all
the tacky daredevilry of reality television (no matter how I try
to block it out, this crap still leaks into my cultural reservoir)
has dulled my senses. Instead, I'm touched by the space of trust
that materializes. What clarifies, rising above the mechanics of
things like a separate narrative, is the detailed attention the
performers pay to the smallest of their gestures. As with sports,
in some instances the physical payoff of the action becomes privileged
over the specific path of its attack. Somehow a fragility emerges.
And a rich connection of human relationship.
Whatever plot might
be inherent in the activities seems moot. One character repeatedly
tries to communicate to his peers in a series of urgent grunts,
noises and tics. Maybe it's a language. Another assumes an assigned
position, a five-pointed balance atop the metal poles (knees, feet
and forehead) like a broken dog returning to its cage.
The physical vocabulary
is a pastiche of possible influences. From this Hungarian company,
one might expect a certain bleak translation of the Western post-modern
technique that now flows freely into its vicinity. I guess I ought
to use the word Kafkaesque to describe this physically challenging
yet emotionally spare style, since I'm not often given the chance
to use the word and it is so geographically accurate. I thought
I also saw Tai Chi or Karate; a whole motif looked like Edouard
Because the characters
evidence such care for the obscure games they engage in, tenderness
is evoked. The lingering effect is a focus on the only thing we
can ever have agency over in the bewildering flow of power of our
wider social and cultural fabric: The choice to engage mindfully
in the task at hand.
Go back to Flash Reviews